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Goa

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Goa

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Village scene, Goa
Panjim riverside, Goa

Goa is a former Portuguese colony, currently a state in India's West region. It is 3700 square kilometers in size and has a human population of approximately 1.4 million. Its east-west mix, beaches and syncretic culture is what attracts an officially-estimated two-and-half million visitors each year. Out of these, about 400,000 are foreign tourists, the rest coming from other regions of India. Portuguese culture and architecture can still be found.

Some call it "India lite", an easy-to-encounter version of India. Others label Goa's Panaji (also referred to as Panjim, Ponnje or Pangim) as India's most charming of state capitals. It probably still is, despite recent changes. Goa has its brown-tiled roofs, beaches, a reputation for centuries as a place where cultures and people meet. And undoubtedly, the holiday capital of South Asia.

But Goa is much more too. It's a charming place with a different history. A place that acts as an entry point into India for a growing number of Euro tourists. And a place that writers, creative persons and others find increasingly attractive to make their home. From the 1960s, Goa has been attracting a steady flow of visitors -- first the hippies and returning expat Goans, then the charter tourists visiting (starting with the Germans in 1987), pilgrims visiting both Catholic and Hindu shrines, those opting to settle in Goa as their home, visitors coming here for medical treatment, and a growing number of those who attend seminars and conferences in Goa.

If Goa is visibly different from the moment you encounter it then, that has something to do with Goa's unusual past. Obviously South Asia, like any other corner of this region, Goa's isolation from the rest of India for 451 years of Portuguese rule, in many ways, shapes its current reality.

Many are attracted by Goa's Portuguese face, even if the post-1961 dominant political face sees this as somewhat politically incorrect. Hotels too sometimes name their suites with quaint Portuguese names and icons.

Regions

Regions of Goa
North Goa (Bardez, Bicholim, Pernem, Ponda, Sattari, Tiswadi)
The northern talukas.
South Goa (Canacona, Mormugao, Quepem, Salcette, Sanguem)
The southern talukas.

By Indian standards and size, Goa is a very small state with only two districts. These districts are together further divided into 11 talukas (sub-districts). While for administrative purposes Goa is divided on a North and South Goa basis, for touristic purposes (other than understanding the geography), this distinction doesn't make much sense to the traveller. Both North Goa and South Goa are similar, and each has their own "coastal" and "interior" areas. Likewise, the central coastal part of both the district have similar histories, and underwent Portuguese rule for longer than did the hinterland, making them more Westernized in appearance.

Goa's different regions, if these are to be pointed out, are actually its central coastal areas (where the beaches are located, and these area were under colonial rule for longer, reflecting more of Portugal's influence, including having a relatively larger Christian population), and the interior hinterland areas (more of the nature sanctuaries, mining zones and rural areas are located here).

It must be however noted that despite popular perception, Goa has a minority Catholic population (a little over 25%) while the Hindus (in varying caste groupings) form the majority. Likewise, contrary to popular perception, Goa is not an island, though parts of what was considered "Goa" in the past were cut-off from the mainland by the many rivers this region is known for.

Goan culture has been shaped by the mainly Hindu and Catholic population. People are mostly easy going ( 'socegad' in Portuguese). With better connectivity by Air and Rail, there has been an influx of people from neighbouring states, that has led to different cultures. Many Indians from other states have now come and settled here.

Cities

Goa's "cities"

For a state which claims to be "half urban", Goa has a surprisingly large number of villages. Even its "cities" are more like small, crowded (in Panjim's case, scenic) towns. Currently, not one city has a population significantly more than 100,000, though some are close to it. The villages can be charming, and in a world of their own, though sadly, tourism and the real estate boom it engineered is seen by locals as destroying the very place the visitors come for.


  • Panaji (Panjim, also referred to a Ponn'je in Konkani, and earlier called Pangim and Nova Goa during Portuguese rule) – the state capital

Goa also has a number of other smaller, sometimes charming and sometimes crowded towns such as along the beach belt (Calangute, Candolim), and in the interior (Chaudi in Canacona, Sanvordem-Quepem, Bicholim, Pernem town, etc). Some of these are gateways to the nearby touristic areas. In addition, Goa has some nearly 350 villages, often scenic and each having a character of its own.

Some other places which you could find more information about:

Other destinations

Bondla Park, entrance., Goa
  • Old Goa, home of famed sixteenth century churches, convents and monuments
  • Ponda taluka, the temple heartland of Goa

Understand

Village Goa

Goa's heart is in its villages. Prominent Goan architect Gerard Da Cunha has argued elsewhere that, unlike others, Goans don't live in the cities. They mostly live in the villages and they travel to work.

Not surprisingly, it's the villages of Goa which hold out both charm and character. Take an aimless ride on a relaxed evening or a languid morning -- living in Goa can be tough and slow, but holidaying there is just fine -- and surprise yourself about the charms of the Goan village.

Unlike urban areas, the villages tend to be neat and clean, friendly and even good value-for-money. Except maybe in those areas where there are a lot of tourists already.

Goa has many different faces. The coast varies from the "hinterland". Below is a list of some villages where you could find something unusual. But don't restrict yourself to this list alone. You never being surprised what you run into, in Goa without even knowing it exists.

Goa is home to a number of other villages worth visiting: Assolna, Benaulim, Britona, Cortalim, Curtorim, Goa Velha, Mollem, Usgao, Reis Magos, Savoi Verem, Shiroda... a list like this would be far from complete. Please note that you wouldn't necessarily be looking around for accomodation (though you can find it in some places) here, because these villages are often close to the places where most tourists stay (the coastal belt, or the towns).


The Goan population is a mixture of Hindus and Roman Catholics, the distribution being approximately 65% Hindu and 24% Christian. There is also a smaller Muslim population. Despite this, there have been no communal clashes (except for violence in 2005 in the twin towns of Curchorem-Sanvordem, involving the Muslim and Hindu communities, over a dispute believed to have been politically stoked-up) in the past and Goa is regarded as one of the most peaceful states in India.

Goan Catholics generally acknowledge their Hindu roots, and carry traces of a caste-system within their social beliefs sometimes. It is recorded that in many instances the Hindus left one son behind to convert and thus continue to own and manage the common properties while the rest of the family preferred to emigrate to neighboring areas along with the idols representing their Hindu deities.

Over the years large numbers of Catholics have emigrated to the major commercial cities of Bombay and Pune and from there onward to East Africa, the Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique, to Portugal itself and towards the end of the 20th century to Canada and Australia. Many old Goan ancestral properties therefor lie either abandoned or mired in legal tangles brought about by disagreements within the widely dispersed inheritors of the property. In recent years, expat Goans have been returning to their home state, often purchasing holiday homes along the coast (which are then converted into 'rent back' apartments, hired out to short-staying tourists by realtors).

The best time of the year to visit Goa is mid-November to mid-February when the weather is comfortable, dry and pleasant.

Goa's links with Portugal (needs work)

Apart from the consulates there are cultural organisations active in Goa, with the Portuguese again being most active.

Fundacao Oriente has a spacious presence in Fontainhas, the latin quarter of Panjim. It does organise an occasional interesting programme. Fundacao Oriente, which sponsors cultural events and adds variety to Goa's cultural scene in a way, faced some stormy weather when it was first being set up ... Goa's uneasy parting of ways with its former Portuguese rulers, and lingering ultra-nationalism amidst a section of freedom fighters could be seen as the reasons. The Fundacao also has been subsidising a book-publishing plan which has helped put out more Goa-related titles in what is otherwise a small but colourful market for books dealing with a tiny region of South Asia.

  • Fundação Oriente Delegation in India 175, Filipe Neri Xavier Road Fontainhas Panjim Goa 403 001 Tel : 0832 - 2230728/2436108 Fax : 0832 - 2230291 Email : [email protected] / [email protected]
  • Centro de Língua Portuguesa/Instituto Camões AGVA House 9/32 Dr. Dada Vaidya Road Panjim Goa 403 001 Tel : 6647737 Email : [email protected] Contact : Dr. Miguel Lume
  • Fundação Cidade de Lisboa Dias Building, 1st floor Rua de Ormuz Panjim Goa Tel : 2223969 Contact : Dr. Jorge Renato Fernandes
  • Indo Portuguese Friendship Society Santosh Building Near CBI Office Altinho Panjim Goa Tel : 2436875 Contact : Francis Menezes, President / Gopal Vernekar, Secretary
  • Dempo Centre for Indo-Portuguese Studies Dempo Trade Centre Patto Plaza Panjim Goa 403 001 Tel : 2437849 / 50 Contact : Ms. Isménia da Veiga Coutinho

Public holidays

For a state which has a lot of people passing through, Goa has nearly two weeks of holidays each year. Government offices have a five-day-week (Saturday-Sunday closed). Panjim closes early (around 8 pm) each evening, and shops here could have a fairly longish siesta break (from around 1.30 pm till upto 3.30 pm). Goan shop owners take this siesta break seriously, and no business is conducted during this time. Bars, restaurants and other shopping centers are more buyer-friendly.

Major public or special holidays are around Christmas, Republic Day, Id-ul-zuha, Gudi Padva, Good Friday, Independence Day, Ganesh Chaturthi (both days), Gandhi Jayanthi, Dussehra, Diwali, Id-ul-fitr, Feast of St Francis Xavier, Goa Liberation Day, ; Mahashivratri, Holi and Id-e-milad. Banks may remain open during local religious celebrations. Weekend: Saturday and Sunday.

Expect a huge influx of tourists and locals residing in other states during festivals like Ganesh Jayanthi, and Carnival (celebrated at the begining of Lent in the Christian calendar. It is advised to make bookings for trains, buses and flights well in advance if you intend on visiting the state during these days.

Talk

Goa's state language is Konkani. Most Goans speak Konkani, English, Hindi, Kannada and Marathi. Portuguese is also known by a small segment, especially the elite and earlier privileged class or the older generation which studied in pre-1961 Portuguese-ruled Goa.

However, different languages tend to be used for different purposes in Goa. Konkani is the most widely spoken. English and Marathi tend to be most widely read. (Most newspapers are read in these two languages too.) For primary schooling, education has to be imparted in "local regional languages" (i.e. Konkani or Marathi) to be entitled to receive government grants, on the argument that elementary education is best imparted in the "language of the child". At middle and high-school, and college too, education is almost wholly imparted in English.

Catholics largely use Konkani for their prayer services, while the language for region is largely Marathi for Hindus. The administration is largely conducted in English, which is also the language of publication of the official gazette, and the main used tongue in the courts.

File:PosterOfKonkaniFilm.jpg
Poster of a Konkani film from the 1960s, Goa, India.

It can be rather difficult currently to be able to learn Konkani, with options for learning rather restricted. The language is written in four to five scripts, in and beyond Goa -- Devanagari (the official script), Roman or Romi (widely used in Goa), Kannada-script, Malayalam-script and Perso-Arabic reportedly used by some Muslim communities further south along the Indian west coast. Recently, books to learn Konkani in the Roman script have also been published, making it easier for those not knowing the Devanagari script (used to write Hindi, Marathi and other languages too) that is the officially-recognized script for Konkani in Goa.

Get in

Goa can be reached by its lone airport (Dabolim), by train, and by the many buses connecting the state with cities in India (primarily Mumbai Mangalore and Bangalore). If you are travelling from Mumbai or Pune, car travel would provide you a journey through he breathtaking scenery of Konkan area. Travel from Mangalore to Goa is through konkan rail and you can see its breath taking scenary and doodh sagar.

Distance from Goa to various cities:

By bus

There are several bus routes from various cities, but most traffic is from mainly Bombay and Pune, but with increasing demand from the south, there has been an increase in buses and trains from Mangalore,Bangalore and New Delhi. Overnight buses from Mumbai to Goa are one alternative to trains and flying. Note that while many of the coaches are newer Volvo models, you will share your sleeper bunk with one other person. (2 Person bunk)

By train

Indian Railways [8] connects Goa with direct train services from Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Mangalore, Kochi, Kolkata, Thiruvanantapuram, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. The destination station is usually Madgaon in South Goa. Travelling to Goa by train is a real pleasure as the route passes through greenery and many tunnels.
A railway station which most tourists tend to miss is Thivim, which is served by most trains and is just 20 minutes away from Calangute beach by taxi.
For budget travellers, this is the cheapest option, apart from being faster and much more comfortable than travelling by road. It is advisable for tourists to make reservations well in advance as the major trains (Konkan Kanya, Nethravati express etc.) are usually heavily booked. Also note that trains from Mumbai and most other places have a quota of seats set aside for tourists. Quota tickets must be purchased in person at the rail station by the tourist and cannot be booked via a travel agent. Note that quota tickets are only sold at the station of origin. Tickets can also be booked online [9].
Unless travelling on a shoe string budget, it is advisable to travel by the Air conditioned sleeper coaches, that are relatively quieter, and much more comfortable. Each bunk is provided with two freshly laundered sheets, a blanket, and a pillow. You can also have a hand towel on request.


Here are some useful trains to get into Goa:

Train Number Train Name You may board at You may alight at
2432 Rajdhani Express Nizamuddin (Delhi), Panvel (Mumbai) Madgaon Junction
2618 Mangala Lakshadweep Express Nizamuddin (Delhi), Kalyan (Mumbai), Panvel (Mumbai) Thivim, Madgaon Junction
0103 Mandovi Express Mumbai CST, Panvel (Mumbai) Thivim, Madgaon Junction
0111 Konkan Kanya Express Mumbai CST, Panvel (Mumbai) Thivim, Madgaon Junction
2051 Jan Shatabdi Express Mumbai CST, Panvel (Mumbai) Thivim, Madgaon Junction
2450 Sampark Kranti Express Nizamuddin (Delhi) Thivim, Madgaon Junction
7309 Yesvantpur-Vasco Express Yesvantpur (Bangalore) Madgaon Junction, Vasco Da Gama
7311 Chennai-Vasco Express Chennai Central, Yesvantpur (Bangalore) Madgaon Junction, Vasco Da Gama
8047 Amaravathi Express Howrah (Kolkata) Madgaon Junction, Vasco Da Gama
6346 Netravathi Express Thiruvananthapuram Central, Mangalore Junction Madgaon Junction, Thivim
2431 Rajdhani Express Thiruvananthapuram Central, Mangalore Junction Madgaon Junction


Travelling by train can be quite an experience as you are more likely to be able to interract with fellow Indian travellers visiting Goa from different parts of the country, under more relaxed condiions.

Also see Rail travel in India

By air

Goa has one airport at Dabolim in Vasco, that was actually owned by the Indian Navy. Wide bodied aircrafts are unable to land here. Presently the airport is heavily used due to the influx of tourists.

Some airlines fly directly to Goa, but most international flights arrive via Mumbai.

Goa has daily flights to and from Bangalore, Delhi,Hyderabad Mumbai and Pune (no flights return to Pune) and has flights twice a week to Chennai. Recently, daily flights to Jaipur and Ahmedabad, as well as to Mangalore, Kozhikode (Calicut) and Kochi (Cochin) have also been added.

Domestic Airlines flying into Goa include Kingfisher airlines [10], spicejet [11], Jet Airways [12], Indian Airlines [13], Air Deccan [14], Indigo [15] and GoAir [16].

There are international flights to Kuwait and UAE twice a week on Air India and charter flights to the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and Switzerland.

On arrival, it advisable to take a pre-paid taxi from Dabolim Airport to various parts of Goa. You will see the yellow pre-paid taxi booth 30 metres on the left when you exit the main building.

Normally most resorts pick up from the airport for free so please make sure you ask your resort for free pickup.

By ferry

The once-popular steamer service that connected Goa with Bombay via a 22-hour inexpensive journey no longer plies. There are occasional cruise services between the two.

Get around

Goa lacks good maps. This small state still lacks an atlas or a good 1:50,000 wall map with standard geographic details. So government officials and educationists make do with tourist maps. Most local maps fail to show the islands off Canacona, apart from Anjediv. (This one was handed over to the Indian Navy by the Ravi Naik government in the early 1990s). Isles that are growing increasingly popular among Western tourists are simply not shown.

Parts of Goa lack sign-boards, many of the existing ones are either illegible or have simply fallen apart. So finding your way around might be a challenge, specially after dusk. The usual way is to "just ask". People are friendly and helpful, usually. In rural areas, expect not-too-precise answers though. A five minute drive could well take 20 minutes.

Dont overspeed! Though the roads in Goa are arguably far better than they are in the other parts of India, resist the temptation to drive fast. Keep a top speed of 60-70 Kmph, slowing down to 40 Kmph on minor roads. Expect a lot of road surprises, including animals and little children darting accross, besides unmarked speed breakers.

By bike

A lot of tourists rent scooters which are usually Honda Activas, an ungeared scooter which is quite easy to ride. One can also rent geared motorcycles including the popular Royal Enfield, the British motorcycle which is now manufactured in India. This is even bought by tourists from the rental company if they plan to stay longer. However make sure you are careful while riding especially if you plan to ride on the highways. The rental company doesn't provide helmets and it is up to you to look for one if you want one. One can get these scooters or motorcycles from garages or from people standing on the road next to these scooters and one can expect to spend between Rs.100 - Rs. 250 a day on a scooter and a little more if one is looking for a geared motorcycle. Always ask for a discount if renting long-term (one month or more). As elsewhere in India, one should be very cautious while riding a motorcycle. Some of the greatest hazards being animals and commuter buses. Always practice defensive driving, and be prepared for road surprises.

By Jeep

If you aren't comfortable riding in Goa or have a bigger group you can also rent a jeep. These are usually either Mahindras which are similar to Jeep Willys or Maruti Gypys which are the long wheel base version of the Suzuki Samurai. A lot of these jeeps are open without a roof and can really help to enjoy the Goa experience and is a better way to travel around as opposed to a regular sedan. One can expect to pay around Rs. 700 - Rs. 800 a day for these jeeps.

By bus (Local)

You can also use the local buses to travel to different beaches in Goa. Note that these buses are not owned by Goa municipal authorities and as such the fare can vary. A typical bus ride will cost anywhere from 4-6 rupees, fares for longer distances are usually displayed inside the bus directly behind the driver. Fares are not collected at the bus doors but rather after you after you entered and the bus has begun to move. Local buses are a great way to travel and see the country and are extremely cheap. 10-15 Rupees will often get you a 30-40KM ride. Meeting locals on the bus is a joy and you will need them to navigate the impossibly complex bus network between cities.

By Car (Local)

You can easily visit Goa through Car. There are many Car Rental Companies available which Provide world Class Services [17].

  • Savaari Car Rental,Savaari Car Rental Goa has a reputation for providing quality luxury car rentals Goa.For more information on online booking of Rental Car in Goa, Website:[18]

See

Art & Culture

Goa has a number of museums. There's the Goa State Museum and then there's Architect Gerard da Cunha's relatively-new architectural museum called Houses of Goa. The Xavier Centre of Historical Research, at Porvorim, has its Gallery on Christian Art, named the Xavier Xandev Museum. the archaeological museum and portrait gallery is at Old Goa, the Christian Art Museum at the same location (a little further away at the Santa Monica Convent annexe), and the Pilar Seminary Museum. Big Foot at Loutolim (aka Ancestral Goa) is an attempt to illustrate and recreate Goa's traditional past. There's even a vintage-cars collection of sorts -- Ashvek Vintage World "dedicated to restore and preserve motoring and motorcycling gems of historical interest in Goa". You can find cars ranging from ye old Mercedes Benz, to the Peugeot, Morris, Chevrolet and the Volkswagen. Check it out at Nuvem, on permanent display. Entry Rs 50.

  • There's the religious Museum of Blessed Joseph Vaz .
  • The Naval Aviation Museum [[19]]behind the airport is a great place to see and touch vintage aircraft like the Sealands, Doves, Alizes, Seahawks, Vampires and Hughes Helicopters besides the relatively newer Sea Harriers and a Super Constellation.
  • The Goa-government run Kala Academy and the Portuguese-run Fundacao Oriente in India, the Central Library (even tourists can become temporary members) are also other options.
  • The Sound and Light Gallery Museum is at Old Goa, where one can get a Christian religious tour, artistically done. The Goa Science Centre, at a scenic location along Miramar Beach, is a great fun-place for kids specially, but not only. Entrance is Rs 10 (and less for students). There's also a movie theatre showing 3D science-related films.

Art galleries in Goa include Gallery Gitanjali (run by Ajit Sukhija in a building that once was the People's High School at Panjim's latin quarter of Fontainhas), Galeria Cidade at the Cidade de Goa luxury resort, Peace Cottage Fine Art Gallery perched between two luxury hotels at Betalbatim, Gallery Boa Arte opposite the Municipal Garden in Panjim, Picturesque opposite the Goa Urban Cooperative Bank also in Panjim, and Gallery Yemania in Verem. Other art centers are also open in Goa. Art Chamber at Calangute, the Kerkar Art Complex and more. Dr Subodh Kerkar has two galleries, one for his permanent collection, and the other housing the works of Indian and foreign artists. The open air auditorium puts up performances in Indian classical music and dance.

Beaches

Goa is world famous for its beaches, its ancient temples and churches, and its Goan carnival.

If naval aviation interests you, you might want to stop by the Naval Air Museum. This is behind the Dabolim Airport, and you will need to loop around the airport perimeter across the Dabolim Railway station to get there. There are seven outdoor exhibits and other memorabilia and models in a two story building.

Sunset at the Palolem beach
  • Anjuna Beach - Close to the Chapora Fort, its key attraction is a magnificent Albuquerque Mansion built in 1920, flanked by octagonal towers and an attractive Mangalore tile-roof. Anjuna was the second-home (and main location) of the hippies in Goa, in the 1960s and 1970s, after other destinations like Calangute got more "crowded" for them. It is still venue of a (vastly-changed, more mainstreamised) flea market held each Wednesday. In the nearby village of Arpora, two colourful Saturday night bazaars are held in the non-monsoon seasons. This is still part of "alternative" Goa, though charter and other tourists also visit the place in increasing numbers to "get a feel of the hippy years".
  • Palolem Beach A scenic beach in extreme south Goa. Getting a bit crowded. Good eating options. Turning pricey though (by local standards). The rocks and islands off its schore are definitely scenic.
  • Patnem Beach - a small and quiet beach in Canacona taluka
  • Vagator Beach - a beach in Bardez, neighbouring Anjuna
  • Morjim and Asvem - two quieter beaches in extreme north Goa's Pernem taluka
  • Mandrem Beach - another beach in extreme north Goa's Pernem taluka
  • Candolim and Sinquerim Beaches in North Goa's Bardez taluka. Once humble fishing villages. Now the crowded concretised coast of North Goa. Goa's Benidorm. Or quickly getting to be as crowded.
  • Colva Beach - This beach's spectacle of sea, sand and sky blend in a enchanting natural harmony, weaving their magic spell on the visitors. Known for its scenic beauty. This is part of Salcete, Goa's only Catholic majority sub-district. Once a very hospitable area, now relations are getting monetized thanks to tourism.
  • Calangute Beach - aka Queen of all Beaches in Goa. Once highly rated. Now crowded. Expect traffic jams along the main crowded street.
  • Baga Beach A family-beach and charter tourist destination just outside Calangute.
  • Chapora Home of the Chapora fort. Close to Vagator and Anjuna beaches. Also site for a fishing jetty where trawlers (introduced into Goa in the 1960s and 1970s, amidst protests from traditional fishermen, who were affected by them) bring in their catch.

Do

Parasailing at Colva beach

Since Goa has a large Catholic minority, it has many Catholic holidays besides the Indian national holidays. One of them, the Carnival though often mistaken for a 'Catholic holiday' is largely a Government sponsored affair of Floats and festivities.

There is a lot to do - for those who like their fun a little laid back

  • Relax at the beaches. Goa has an almost unbroken 70 km coastline of beaches
  • Be sure to take precautions if you go swimming.
  • Visit the venerable cathedrals of a bygone era at Old Goa, which are still in remarkable good condition where the sacred remains (once considered the incorrupted body) of St. Francis Xavier is.
  • Enjoy the cuisine at a range of restaurants that cater to just about every palate. Goa is an amazing place to try out food from across India and the rest of the globe.
  • Check out the several discos and pubs that have sprung up around Goa.
  • Goa is more than just a set of scenic beaches. It has long been a meeting place of cultures, and played a role in global history in the past centuries. Check out local resources, meet interesting people, visit unusual institutions -- you could find more than you expect here.
  • Check out on Goa's Natural Wonders.
  • Information is hard to come by in these areas of Goa. Ask villagers for one or two villages down the line, as some tend to get confused by questions about longer distances. People are generally very helpful if approached politely and with a smile. More polite, naturally, than in the more touristy parts of Goa. Banks and the bus-stops are the few places that mention location names. They are good guides to get a sense of bearing, in a place where there are few sign-boards.
  • Be kind to the local people. Most villages are tightly-knit communities, where everyone knows everyone else. The presence of a stranger in places outside of bigger beach areas (like Palolem) becomes immediately obvious to villagers. Treat the areas with respect; and make your intrusion less interfering. Villagers are quick to help out, and reciprocate a smile. But 'outside' origins are quickly obvious -- even a Konkani speaker from another part of Goa would get immediately 'betrayed' by his accent!
  • Take care of confusing (and newly-changed) names. Locals are unsure about the names of some beaches. Where exactly is Tari? Or, has that name become redundant after the canoe connecting the two points fell into disuse ('tari' is Konkani for canoe-point) now that there's a bridge there?
  • To add to the confusion, some beach names have been arbitrarily set up by foreign visitors. 'Butterfly' is supposedly an island between Palolem and Agonda, which few locals would know by that name. Some guides refer to Khola (written as 'Cola' by the Portuguese) as Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola!
  • Be kind to the environment. Goa has long been an eco-friendly, waste-free society, though the waterguzzling tourism mega-projects and the large scale plastic influx has changed all that. On the roadsides, you can see coconut shells drying. The coconut tree, which predominates South Goa (the favorite drink is coconut feni, not cashew feni as in North Goa) is very much used in the kitchen to home-building and many other purposes.


Diving

The dive season is between mid October to mid May. Diving is not possible during the monsoons in India ( June till mid October ) The water temperature is between 27 to 30 degrees. The local diving here consists of dive sites around Grande Island, just off the coast near Vasco Da Gama. The dive sites are mostly 12 to 16m deep, and the visibility varies through the season, with an average of around 5-6 m. Marine life is abundant, with many species of reef fish, and hard and soft coral,and several shipwrecks to dive.

If you want to dive Goa, there are several dive centers operating, and they offer local dives,conduct PADI courses, and organize dive trips to Pigeon Island (also known locally as Netrani Island) in the neighbouring state of Karnataka.

  • Barracuda Diving, Sun Village, Baga-Arpora, Goa, [2].
  • Goa Aquatics, Candolim, 09822685025, [3].
  • Goa Diving, Vasco Da Gama, 2555117, [4].

Buy

Goabooks

To understand a complex region like Goa, it's best to get started by reading on it. This is a melting pot of cultures, histories, languages and complexities.

Bookshops in Goa include the Panjim-based Broadway Book Centre (Ashirvada Building, at the end of 18th June Road, Panjim), the Golden Heart Emporium functioning out of an old house in Margao's Abade Faria Road locality, the tourism-belt based Literati Bookshop (near Tarcar Ice Factory, along the main Calangute-Sinquerim road), and Upper Storey at Arcon Arcade at the Fort Aguada Road in Candolim.

There are also other bookshops scattered around the state, including Varsha's and Mandovi Hotel's (in close proximity to the Azad Maidan, Panjim; the alternativish Other India Bookstore almost hiding atop the old Mapusa Clinic in Mapusa (entry from behind); among others. Don't miss the rare books section of the Central Library in the oldstyle colonial Institute Menezes Braganza (Panjim), and the municipality libraries in the main towns, including Mapusa's Athaide Library.

Other research institutions with good collections include the Xavier Centre of Historical Research at Alto Porvorim, the also-Jesuit run Thomas Stevens Konknni Kendra nextdoor at Porvorim, the Goa University, and a quaint Konkani-focussed library called Amchem Diaz (Our Traditions) that functions out of the first floor of a commercial establishment not far from the Margao bus stand and the local court.


From wines to cashew-nuts, enchanting local music to alternative books and handicrafts, Goa has a lot. Goa's handicrafts are clearly under-rated and under-appreciated, even while being reasonably priced. Their range includes carved furniture, brassware, crochet and more (see section on the government-run Aparant emporia).

Global items come in amazing diversity specially at the night markets of North Goa. In Panjim, the 18th June Road is faster emerging as a lure for shoppers and tourists. Mapusa, while hosting a traditional market each Friday, attracts a number of tourists, specially foreigners. Goa's talented goldsmiths are neatly located in a line at Mapusa's market, and in parts of Margao and Panjim. Check out traditional Goan lacquerware toys (available at the Aparant emporia).

Every major hotel has its own bookshop, of varying quality. Books tend to be priced amazingly inexpensively in India, including in Goa. For the best collection of books related to 'alternative India' and the environment, visit the almost hidden Other India Bookstore. It sits atop the old Mapusa Clinic, at Mapusa's Feira Alta locality. Entrance from the behind.

Broadways Book Centre at 18th June Road (near Caculo Traffic Island); Confidant's Golden Heart Emproium in Margao (2732450); Mandovi Square near Cine Nacional (2234241); and Varsha Book Stall (2425832) near the Bank of India and Azad Maidan. The last two focus on newspapers and magazines coming in from the rest of the country and abroad.

Reading Habit, at Campal on the way to Miramar Beach, has a wide variety of books.

One Goan unique product is that of hand-painted ceramics. *Furniture is another area of interest, in terms of shopping options, despite its bulky nature. Antiques are also a growing business here.

Foreign tourists increasingly go "shopping" for medical services. There are a number of outlets that offer a form of 'health tourism'. These include centers like Dr Pimenta's Dental Practice (www.goadentist.com) at Romano Chambers (near the Old Petrol Pump in Calangute) and Lake Plaza near Nehru Stadium in Margao.

Handicrafts

Want to shop Goan? One good value-for-money place is the Aparant network of outlets managed by the State-run Goa Handicrafts network. In their ten outlets across Goa you could expect to find an interesting range of handicrafts from Goa. And reasonably priced too. Items range from shell-work to clay, bamboo, paper mache, coconut-items and fiber. "If visitors have a problem with carrying back some the (more fragile) handicrafts home, then fibre is a good option. These outlets are, besides four in Panjim, located at Vasco da Gama (on Swatantra Path, at the Vasco Residency) and at the local GTDC-run "residency" hotels in Margao, Mapusa, Calangute, the Bicholim Pottery Production Centre at the Industrial Estate, and at Loutolim's Big Foot.

In Panjim, the other outlets of Aparant are located at the Udyog Bhavan (opposite the Goa Police Headquarter, near the Ferry Jetty); at the main Kadamba bus-terminus; and at the Crafts Complex office of the Goa Handicrafts in Neugi Nagar (Rua de Ourem). The largest number of items are available at the last location, about 2.5 kms off the center of town.

Most of the Aparant outlets are open between 9:30 or 10AM to 6 or 7PM, depending on their location.

Products of dry coconuts and coconut-shells are carved and often designed to fit on a wooden base. Items produced here include table lamps, flower pots, table clocks, different religious statues and decorative items.

Cotton thread is transformed in an artistic way with the crochet steel hook, rendering it in beautiful designs and shapes. Likewise, sea-shells that were once discarded by the beach get transformed by artisans. Traditional clay art -- in the form of pots, ash-trays, flower pots, images of gods -- is a skill that has been built up across generations in Goa. Ditto for the case of bamboo products.

A few of these items are produced in-house at the Goa Handicrafts' center in Bicholim. Others come from artisans across the state. This network has done a fair job in highlighting the skills of geographically-scattered local artisans, and also finding them the market they so-badly need to sustain their rich talent.


Clothes

  • Just Casuals Good collection of clothes exported from India, you never know which brand you might find and prices are a steal. Located at Navelcar Trade Centre, Panjim. Tel 2226666 and Francis at the store will help pick out great stuff

Eat

The Goan staple diet consists of rice and fish curry along with pickles and fried fish. This can be found on many of the beach shacks. The Goan cuisine is a blend of Portuguese and local flavours. Many dishes such as prawn balchao and Kingfish in Garlic have distinct Portuguese flavour.

Dishes such as Vindaloo and Xacuti (pronounced Cha'cuti) will be familiar from Indian restaurant menus, and are originally Goan dishes.

  • Priyatu Mondal's Restaurant, Morgim. Wow. Voted among top beach shacks in the world by The Guardian. great French and Continental food and view, though poor service when owners are absent. very expensive
  • After Seven Restaurant - reviewed favorably in Frommers, Rough Guides, Uppercrust - well known for steaks, seafood, pastas
  • Montego Bay Goa (Morjim)- full fledged restaurant serving Continental, Indian, Seafood and the local Goan Cuisine [20]
  • Cavala, Baga - Beautiful authentic Goan food in a charming setting. Also great entertainment is often featured!
  • Martin's Corner, Betalbatim
  • J & A's, Arpora
  • Stone House, Candolim - garden bar and rest - great cooking lovely atmosphere
  • Caji's Place, Colva- known for its fresh and spectacular Prawn Curry.
  • Dominos Pizza, Margao 0832-2713888, 2713660-61 Shop No.11-12, Durga Apartments,Louis Miranda Road , Near Saaj Hotel , Margao - 403601
  • Tato's in Margao and Panjim for good Pau Bhaji.
  • Posh, at Nerul, near the post-office, opened in November 2007 for brunch and dinner, a sister concern of After Seven Restaurant, Calangute, serves International cuisine, British Colonial and Goan Food

Most beaches have shacks that serve surprisingly delicious meals, specially sea-food and they'll usually consult you to see how you like your food. Don't miss the shack eating experience. You'll want to go back and do it again. Most fancy hotels and restaurants serve terrible foods, it is best to eat at local places, ask a taxi driver where these would be and don't let him take you to any fancy restaurants as they receive commission. For a taste of the local flavour with clean facilities but low prices go to Caji's Place, Colva.


  • Mirabai Goan village, Off Baga Rd, Calangute, 98221768808. Wow! Wonderfully prepared and served local and Indian cooking, beautiful setting and charming knowledgable owner
  • Gujarat Lodge, 18th June Road, Panaji, Goa, 2424777/9423056557. Serving Gujarati Thali Since 1935! Simple and Tasty fare at very reasonable rate. Try their Khichdi&Kadhi with Masala Chaas(Buttermilk)and Lassi!!!!
  • L'Orange Bar & Restaurant, Candolim,Goa.India (Near Magnum resort,behind big banyan tree on the road), +919970173606. 12am-3pm & 6pm-11pm. Here’s your chance to experience Soul Food ! Where the Chef believes that cuisine is a symphony of ingredients, one compliments the other and its a rythm to your tastebuds. Offering you splendid service - the best from both worlds (europé & India). This Creative restaurant is handled by a swedish lady (Annika) and her husband the Chef (Asheen). You also get to experience great Cocktails, Live Music & Art Gallery by Sydney Lobo. Won an overall rating of 9/10 by GT Weekender.

Budget

Somehow only the big and luxury names seem to ever get written about in Goa. Probably it has something to do with their long reach, persistence and the fact that they simply have a bigger budget for doing PR.

But if you're looking for taste, and not ambience, here's where you could seek. Caution -- some of these places are really rough, though tasty:

  • Aflatoon 'Hotel', near the masjid alongside Alankar cinema in Mapusa. Be prepared to share tables with the scruffiest of characters and dig into tasty mutton biryani (Rs 40), beef biryani (Rs 20), soft parathas (Rs 5), seekh kababs (Rs 10) and the rest...This is Muslim-style food.
  • Goan-Nonveg fast-food joints (they run out of adapted handcarts) at Santa Cruz (near the church) and Miramar (adjoining Clube Gaspar Dias). Meat-based sandwiches for Rs 10, tasty and easy-to-carry. Real home-style food at down-to-earth prices. No wonder one outlet at Miramar sells 800 bread a day! You can also get similarly delicious Goan cooking at the roadside in Agaciam (just before the bridge) or sausages ('choris-pao') at the Agaciam market.
  • Ajanta, near the Old Panjim Bus Stand, just before you new bridge over the Pato creek. Typical Pernem-style Goan food. Simple, tasty fish-curry-rice. Spicy too. Riceplates are Rs 20-25. The special dishes (chicken, occasionally crab) are fiery hot and spicy.
  • Alisha, opposite the new Goa legislative assembly. Both these above come from the cuisine of Hindu Goa (there are some variants among this too, depending on region, class and caste).
  • Sarovar. What can you get for Rs 25? Two parathas, butter-milk, three curries, curd, rice, a sweetdish, pickle... Naturally crowded in the afternoons. Even more naturally, the waiters can be quite friendly since at this value-for-money it hardly hurts to give a five rupee tip (great by local standards) each time!
  • Generally, almost every Udupi or 'Kamat' restaurant in the state. This cuisine finds its origin outside Goa's borders, along the south Karnataka coast. But, what the heck, the food maintains its standards and taste, that even some among the local Christian population (who's diet is or has been actually non-vegetarian) have developed a taste for this. Standard meals average Rs 20-30.
  • The lone 'shack' (at the time of writing, 2003) on Siridao beach. This fishing village is tucked away off the Panjim-Margao highway, just before the Agaciam-Cortalim bridge. Fish dishes, it's speciality naturally.
  • Hotel Mangalore, by the roadside about a kilometre away from Canacona's main tiny town, Chaudi. Don't get misled by the term 'hotel', this is a roadside eatery. It's close to Char Rasta, literally, Four Roads, the point where they meet. Not to be confused with another restaurant of the same name, that lies closer to the petrol pump. The 2002-end prices were pegged at 'deluxe fish c. rice' (the 'c' is for curry) at Rs 80, a semi-deluxe version for half that price, and a 'local' equivalent for one-fourth. Obviously chicken is its specialty.
  • Check the fish preparations of the restaurant that's under the bridge at the Cortalim end. Traditional Catholic Goan style, good value for money.
  • Cafe Prakash, a tiny hole-in-the-wall in Panjim. Near the Azad Maidan close to the ferry jetty. Nothing exceptional here, except that some of us local journalists consider it to be the "unofficial" press club of Goa each evening (lots of gossip!) and you could dwadle over a cup of tea (Rs 3) for three hours. No questions asked!
  • Ernesto's, in Panjim is a good place for portugese cusine. It serves by far the best steaks I've tasted and is relatively inexpensive. It is on the second floor and it has just a neon indicator spelling out the name of the place, which is not very visible during the day. Look out for the Vasco da gama club.
  • Sagar Kinara Restaurant, near Colva Beach. If you are bored of Goan food, try something different. This is a place for authentic & tasteful north-Indian vegetarian cuisine.

Drink

Fenifacts


  • Feni can have upto 42% alcohol.
  • Goa has an estimated 4000 and 2200 traditional stills manufacturing cashew and coconut feni, respectively.
  • North Goa dominates cashew production, while the South dominates coconut.
  • Feni can be used in cocktails too. A 2001 republished book by Francisco Gracias is titled 'Goan Fenny Cocktails'.
  • 'Business India' in 2001 argued that feni could fill the gap created by the growing demand and rising prices for drinks like the Mexican Tequila, abroad.
  • 'Drinks International' classified feni under the 'exotic spirits' category, comparing it with the Mexican Tequila.
  • Feni is labelled as a 'country liquor' in modern India, causing handicaps to its growth.
  • Clear, triple-distilled feni cannot be considered just any cheap brew. It has a unique distinctive taste.
  • In India, traditional drinks like feni are "debarred" from entering a market reserved for the "ridiculously branded" Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), says 'Business India'.
  • Says Madam Rosa Distillery's Valentino Vaz: "In India... country liquor a most abused term -- a state monopoly. The output is reserved for the poor and the market is not allowed to supply arrack."
  • Leading Goan feni manufacturing companies like Madame Rosa, Real, Cajulana, Dona Maria, Lobos Distilleries are reported to be doing a roaring multi-crore business".
  • Local producers say unfortunately, the state and Central governments are "studiously" not lifting the country liquor labels from such a "fantastic product".
  • The Portuguese brought the cashew-crop from tropical America to Goa sometime between 1563 and 1578.
  • The name 'feni' is believed to have been derived from the Sanskrit-Konkani word 'fen', meaning froth.
  • Feni has a distinctive smell. Some non-drinkers or drinkers of other spirits find it unpleasant. "But feni lovers simply can't do without it," as its supporters back home say.
  • Attempts to remove the aroma of feni have brought back cautionary signals, with some fearing a feni without its smell would kill the drink.
  • Expat Goans earlier, and tourist visitors now, have taken the drink to new markets -- Middle East, Europe, Australia and Canada.
  • Liquor baron-turned-politician Vijay Mallaya has said: "Being a frequent visitor to Goa, I am familiar with feni. I know it has a potential to hit the international market."


For a destination which tends to be costlier -- in almost everything -- than the rest of India, Goa has liquors and wines that are priced noticeably low. Products available range from wine (red and white), to the oddly-named Indian-made foreign liquors (IMFLs, which include whisky, brandy, rum, gin, vodka and more), and local liquors (basically cashew and coconut feni). Prices of domestic products range from Rs 40 to Rs 350 per bottle, depending on product and brand.

There are two local brews long made and drunk in Goa -- cashew feni and coconut feni. One comes from the cashew apple, and the other from the sap of the coconut tree. Goa's feni-making has been much focussed on.

Feni-brewing skills have been honed by Goa's former Portuguese rulers. Strange but true: the cashew was brought in by the Portuguese themselves, and today it seems like a closely integrated part of Goa. Cashew-apples go to waste in neighbouring states, and in the fruiting season, one could get a strong smell of semi-fermenting apples being transported specially from Maharashtra into Goa, at locales close to the border.

Feni has come to become synonymous with Goa. "Indigenous alcoholic drinks include coconut palm toddy from south and eastern India and the Goan liquor 'feni' based on coconut palm juice or cashew nut," explains the website of the Indian Embassy in Russia.

Needless to say, feni has its own strong taste. Some like it, some don't. At one of the liquor outlets in Panjim, you can run into bus-loads of tourists picking up their 'souvenir' of feni.

Of course, there are a range of other options too. Local wines are priced at between Rs 40 to Rs 150 per bottle (of 750 ml).

In recent years, Goa has been hosting what it calls the "Grape Escape", a festival of wines, around the start of each year (held in mid-February 2007 and May 2006, for instance).

Local officials explain it saying: "Our idea is to bring together international wine-makers, local manufacturers, hoteliers and professionals from the entertainment and fashion industries under one roof."

In Panjim, new ventures are also bringing in new products. A Nau ("The Ship" in Portuguese, unfortunately since closed down, as of the time of writing this, October 2008) brings in a range of wines and other commodities from Portugal.

Global Spirits and Foods, which operates out of the Pilerne Industrial Estate some 10 kms from Panjim, wholesales a wide range of products from across the globe -- champagne and cognac from France; wines from Argentina and Chile, Australia and New Zealand; vodka from Poland; single malt from Scotland; and even the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage of Brazil Cachaca. (Cachaça is the product of the distillation of fermented sugarcane juice, with its alcohol strength between 38% and 51% by volume. It is often said to differ from rum in that it is made from sugarcane juice while rum is made from molasses.)

In terms of local products, Madame Rosa has also been diversifying into coffee and other liqueur. Flavours include mango, anise, almond and chocolate mint. PVV (Pedro Vincent Vaz), another prominent brand, comes out with its cashew and palm products (in sizes of 750 ml, 180 ml and 60 ml). Other brands have names like Dom Pedro, Goan Treasure, Cashew Inside, Fruit Shape, among others.


Alcoholic Beverages The popular alcoholic beverages in Goa are Beer and Wine. There is also the local liquor, Fenny, which is quite potent and strong. It comes in 2 flavours, Cashewnut and Coconut.


Popular Bars

  • Montego Bay Goa, Beach shack on Morjim Beach, Ph: +91 98221 50847[21]. Open till midnight.
  • Zanzibar, beach shack on Baga. Early till midnight
  • The Alcove, overlooking Ozran Vagator Beach - Also good place to eat (Open Till Midnight)
  • Tito's, Baga Beach. A popular night club in goa (Open Till 10.00 pm)
  • Shores Bar, Anjuna Beach. Open Till 11PM.

Club Cubana(Arpora) - A night at the Playboy Mansion! This decadent mansion perched on the top of a hill looks over Anjuna and the sea and sports a huge pool, 4 bars, indoor dance floor, a pizza bar and four poster beds scattered around the place. Pay anywhere from 500 - 1000 Rupee for a couple entry (stag entry is not allowed) and pay no more for the rest of the night. Club Cubana has an open bar happening all night, unlimited beer, wine, sparkling and basic spirits are available to you all night! Enjoy the party!

Clubs

  • 9-Bar - Fantastic location nestled on the cliffs of Vagator beach. Things get going from around 6pm and close about 10pm. This is the place to go to find out about whats hot after 10pm.
  • Prim Rose - This is a small bar and restaurant in Little Vagator. Once the road to Vagator is taken (the first right from Anjuna) you are on the way to this psychedelic haven (ask the locals to take the crucial left from the main road). The place consists of a closed wall wherein the two story restaurant is located. To the other side of the road a few snooker tables are placed within a closed area. The roof of the ground floor is adorned with weird psychedelic graffiti in pretty abstract colours. The upper story houses a huge plasma TV and some more snooker tables. Life starts here after 10 in the evening when a huge section of Goa's foreign trippers and junkies get here to have a good time. Good food and wine is served (albeit a bit costly according to Indian standards, but considering the absolutely great music they play and the ambiance, it's worth it).
  • There are many outdoor raves/doofs/parties during the peak season ie December - March
  • Club Tito's, Sauntavaddo, Baga.
  • Cafe Mambo's, Sauntavaddo, Baga. - A typical commercial club, the likes of which can be found in any Indian metro. Expect hugely expensive drinks and strict entry with several bouncers at the door. Expect to be told "Strickly couples entry" if you are an Indian stag. Foreigners should have no trouble getting inside.
  • Pharo's Den (disco, pub, lounge bar). Offers hip hop, club house, retro, Latino, Bollywood. It advertises: "Chill out with cocktails. Sizzle with hookahs. Delicious tandoris. Egyptian theme." Club rules apply, rights of admission reserved. Add: Marquis VAddo, Opp Casa Sea Shell Rest, Candolim Road, Bardez Goa. Ph 9822 121268, 9371 194565 or 9890 305376.
  • Paradiso at Anjuna. Calls itself the "cliffhanger nightclub". Offers "the largest sculpted bar in India, all new lighting that changes with the mood, a 'white look', different generes of music, world-famous DJs (and) a new act every week". Strictly couples. Cover-charge for men. Free entry and free unlimited drinks for women. Ph 9326 100013.
  • Club Blue, La Calypso, Suntavaddo, Baga.
  • Party Zone, Holiday Inn REsort, Mobor, Cavelossim.
  • On the Rocks, Villa Sol, Dona Paula.
  • Red, Kennilworth Beach Resort, Utorda.
  • Aqua, Leela Goa, Mobor, Cavelossim.
  • Ozone, Goa Mariott Resort, Miramar.
  • Ice Cube, Model's Meridien, Miramar-Dona Paula Road.
  • Club Margarita, Goldfield Apartments, Colva.

Sleep

There are a lot of great places to stay, but more often than not, you will find that all of your searches lead to in websites that do travel/accommodation bookings. While this is good, it can be frustrating. In this section, we will add direct contacts of hotels, resorts etc., so that you can choose to use travel agents and/or call/email directly.

Goa is one of the more expensive states in India to stay in. During the peak season, which lasts from November to late March, the prices are very high. Especially in December, 5 star hotel rates rates range from around Rs.20,000 - Rs.35,000 per night some rates go even higher. All tourist spots charge more in the peak season.

Goa really has a lot of places to stay at, except during the last week of the year, between Christmas and New Year, when the place is usually completely packed. Try to avoid that overhyped week and you will get a better deal without the added pressures.

Apart from alcohol, which is very cheap here, Goa is one of the more expensive states in India. Though for a foreign tourist, the range of options available still could be relatively inexpensive.

In season which is from November to late March prices tend to be high, peaking between Christmas and New Year. Many options are available from plush super-deluxe exclusive beachfront properties, to simple and basic paying-guest accomodation near a rustic beach.


Budget

  • Village Nest Leisure Homes [22].If you are interested in value added budget accomodation from a goan family.Kindly check out our website http://www.goanleisure.com We would help you to enjoy Goa as a goan truly does.
  • Montego Bay Goa [23].
  • Sussegado Nature Retreat, [24]. Cottages on a working eco spice farm in Goa's green hinterland - a place to relax away from the bustle of the beaches with a picturesque river and a good starting point for trips to Dudh Sagar waterfalls, the Tambdi Surla temple and Hampi.
  • Hotel Republica, Panaji opp.New secretariate, +91 9831254202. Rs 700 - 1200.
  • Goa Tourism Hotels, Government run budget accommodation. Visit http://www.goatourismhotels.com/
  • Sea Pearl Guesthouse, Family managed guesthouse, Located on the quitest part of Candolim Beach,Seapearl
  • Dona Cristalina, highly affordable family run guesthouse, 5 minutes away from Tivai Vaddo beach, near the Golden Eye resort, Guara Vaddo (Ph: 083-2279012, 9822686575, 9822154561)
  • Caith's Comfy Villa, 3 double Non AC rooms, 5 minutes away from Tivai Vaddo beach, near Casa de Goa resort, Tivai Vaddo, Calangute (Ph: 083-2275521, 9822889376)
  • La Ben Resort, A budget resort with a sprawling lawn near Colva beach. Visit http://www.laben.net/
  • Goanstay, Luxuriously appointed 2 bedroom apartments in the heart of Candolim. Beautifully landscaped gardens,3 swimming pools and close to the beach, restaurant, shops, etc. www.goanstay.com

Mid-range

Many ancestral homes are being renovated to include full-facility guest accommodation, with/without authentic Goan meals, located in scenic, quiet and relaxed villages, all within easy reach of cities and beaches:

North Goa

  • Lemon Tree Amarante Beach Resort, Candolim, Goa, Vadi, Candolim, Bardez 403515, Goa [25] T +91 832 3988188, Email:[email protected]
  • Montego Bay Goa Beach Villa, [26] Vithaldas Waddo,Morjim,Pernem, Tel: (+91)-09822150847 (Mobile) Email: [email protected]

South Goa

  • Garça Branca Hse.#934 on Hwy.17B, Loutulim, Salcette, Tel: (+91)-(0832) 277 7064, [27] Goa's Favourite Bed & Breakfast

Splurge

There are plenty of star hotels in Goa. So, depending on the location, take your pick.

North Goa

  • Lemon Tree Amarante Beach Resort, Candolim, Goa,[28]
  • Baia Do Sol Baga, [29]
  • Blue Beach Resort Goa, [30]
  • Marie Lou Goa, [31]
  • Phoenix Park Inn, [32]
  • Taj Fort Aguada, [33]
  • Taj Hermitage, [34]
  • Taj Holiday Village, [35]

Central Goa

  • Cidade de Goa, [36]
  • The Majestic, [37]
  • Bambolim Beach Resort, [38]
  • The Menino Regency, [39]
  • Marriott, [40]
  • Vainguinim Valley Resort, [41]

South Goa

  • Varca Palms Beach Resort, [42]
  • The Oceanique Resort, [43]
  • Club Mahindra, [44]
  • Goa Renaissance
  • Holiday Inn, [45]
  • Intercontinental, the Grand, [46]
  • Kenilworth Beach Resort, [47]
  • Majorda Beach Resort, [48]
  • Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa, [49]
  • Radisson White Sands, [50]
  • Taj Exotica, [51]
  • Dona Sylvia,
  • The Leela, [52]

Cope

Money

Goa has a large network of banks, some of which will change currency. In the tourist pockets and urban areas, one comes across such services easily. Reserve Bank of India's Foreign Exchange Department is at 3A/B Sesa Ghor, Patto in Panjim (Ph 2438656, 2438659, fax 2438657) though one need not go specifically here.

Leading hotels, shops and travel agents will also offer foreign currency exchanges.

Some full-fledged money changers include Pheroze Framroze & Co (Mahalaxmi Chambers in Panjim phone 2421398 or 2421985 or at 17, Ground Floor, Damodar Phase II, Diogo Costa Road, Margao 2713431 or 2713459); Thomas Cook India (8 Alcon Chambers, Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, Panjim 2221312); Trade Wings (Naik Building, MG Road, Panjim 2224576 or 2430746); Wall Street Finance Ltd (Alcon Chambers, Navhind Bhavan, Panjim 2435822, 2223494); Travco Holidays (6 Ranghavi, Opposite Margao Municipal Building, Near HDFC Bank, Margao 2713207/08/12), Santan Financer and Real Estate (S15, Sanzgiri Arcade, Colva, 2788319, 2788380),Ekta Forex (Opp State Bank of India, Calangute).

Contact

Phones (needs work)

At the time of writing, Goa's telephone directory hasn't been published for at least four years. In a state with among the highest teledensities (phones per hundred users) across India, this is a serious handicap.

Add to this the reality that the telephone network here is frequently growing. And that telephone numbers have grown from four-digits to the current seven in not too many years. Finding the right number you need can be tough.

Old telephone directories have segregated phone subscribers on the basis of the many small phone exchanges in the State. (Earlier, it needed a trunk-call to call from one exchange to the other, not anymore.) So it can be very confusing to locate a particular phone number.However if you do have a phone Number of the Bsnl co. gettin the Adress is easy by dialing 197.

Goa's main telecom ISP BSNL has this online telephone directory which is partiallly useful.

Government of Goa's Department of Information and Publicity (located at Udyog Bhavan, near Azad Maidan and the Goa Police Headquarters in the heart of Panjim) comes out with a fairly-regularly unpriced -- but not easily available -- pocketbook of phone numbers. This focusses largely on politicians, goernment officials and media persons. Some useful fax numbers, email addresses and websites mentioned here. But don't expect officials to reply to your e-mail!

Yellow pages are also available. To enquire about local businesses contact Hello 2412121 (0832-2412121) ,The Talking Yellowpages Of Goa and Online Enquiry Hello Yellowpages Goa. Both these services from Hello Group Goa. offers information on a range of businesses in Goa.

Mobile services have grown fast in Goa.

It is very easy to get a Prepaid mobile, which is very cheap to get and for calls too. A Photo ID proof and photograph for prepaid as well as postpaid connection is required.

  • !DEA[53] - GSM
  • Airtel[54] - GSM
  • Vodafone[55] (formerly Hutch) GSM
  • BSNL-Cell One - GSM
  • Reliance Mobile[56] - CDMA
  • Tata Indicom[57] - CDMA

Internet

Internet cafes can be found in Goa's urban areas, tourist spots and hotels. It is not difficult to find a internet center in a state known for its large expat and tourist populations.

Consulates and High Commissions

Goa is home to the Consulate General of Portugal. Obviously so, as this distant country has had close and long historic and colonial ties.

Getting a Portuguese passport -- or, rather, "regaining" Portuguese nationality, going by what it actually implies -- is no longer as easy as it once was for people of Goan origin. This continues to be available, even if difficult and time-consuming to obtain now, and also for those born after 1961. There are still many queueing up at the lavishly done-up consulate.

Portugal's consulate has itself changed home thrice in a few years. It has now settled along the route to Panjim's one-time -- and still, in some ways -- elite area of Altinho.

Britain, which has a significant number of tourists visiting the region, also has its Tourist Assistance Office (earlier designated as a consular officer) based here. Germany, Austria (in the port town of Vasco da Gama) and Italy have their honorary consuls.

  • Portuguese Consulate General, 38-39 Father Angelo Road-Altinho, 2421525 (, fax: 2421522), [6].
  • British Tourist Assistance Office, S13/14, Dempo Towers, Patto Plaza, 2438734 (, fax: 6641297), [7].
  • German Consulate, C.M.M. House, Rua de Ourem, 2420628.
  • Austrian Consulate, Salgaocar House, Vasco, 2513811.
  • Italian Vice Consulate, D1 Sesa Ghor, Patto Plaza, 2438944 (fax: 2365785).

Stay safe

Goa is an ideal holiday destination for travelers and is safe ,but of course tourists should bear in mind that like any country with all its heritage and culture comes its own set of safety issues [58]. Readers please don’t be alarmed with the advice you may get here, but its just a guidelines to the dos and don'ts in Goa.

  • Avoid unprotected sex with strangers, as there is always a risk of AIDS
  • Western women should not walk on the beaches at night alone. If you have to, take along a companion. Goa is actually quite safe except for unsafe pockets of long-term foreign hippie tourists, be careful of them the most.
  • Do not accept un-bottled drinks from strangers under any circumstances
  • Do not accept rides from strangers, local or foreigners, especially at night.
  • Do not indulge in anything more than light drugs, if you have to. Best is to avoid.
  • Be careful when wading at the beach as undertow riptide currents can be strong in certain beaches. Avoid the mouth of all rivers (such as the Mandovi River at Miramar), especially at low tide when the flow of the water current out to sea is the strongest. And just don't get into the water at all in the off season. The safe swimming period in Goa is November to early May.
  • Avoid contact with unprocessed cashew nuts as they contain an irritant ('urusiol') also present in poison ivy. The cashew apple is edible when ripe.
  • Goans are very friendly and helpful, should you have any problems talk immediately to the nearest Goan shop, restaurant or bystander and ask for help.
  • Travel guides can be expensive and have been known to dupe foreign visitors. Try your hand at travelling alone, buy a map and hire a taxi or rent a bike. Befriend a decent taxi driver and give him business often.
  • Temperatures in winter and summer can be extreme, do not forget sunscreen.
  • Beware of hawkers who always mark up their goods, up to 300%
  • Beware of any scam that offers a free ride in return for a "prize". The prize will suck guaranteed
  • Also beware the 'ear doctors' who are more likely to accost men than women and 'produce' some tiny revolting creature, supposedly from your ear, for which they then offer a 'cure' (it is however humorous to read the cards they print up promoting themselves)
  • While travelling by train, beware of pickpockets, strangers who offer you snacks or tea, and other such people who make trains in India a regular hunting ground.
  • Don't trust travel agents who say that a train is fully booked! They want you to hire a car that costs more and provides them a kick back. A better thing to do is to check out the details yourself on the Indian Railways website [59].
  • For additional information on Laws in Goa - Laws in Goa.

Ambulance

  • Goa Medical College (Bambolim) 102 or 2458725
  • Goa Air Ambulance +91 98211 50889
  • Indian Red Cross (Panjim) 2224601
  • Esperance Clinic (Panjim) 2463185
  • Margao Ambulance Trust (Margao) 2714464
  • Ravi Naik Trust (Ponda) 2312608
  • Ambulance And Welfare Trust (Panjim) 2227997

Travel Services

  • Why Goa Tours & Travels (Panjim) +91 9881231203

Blood Bank

Fire service The number to Fire Service is 191

Police Police Head Quarters, Near Azad Maidan, Panjim [email protected] [email protected]

(these should maybe be sorted and moved to appropriate articles)

  • Police Control Room 100
  • Police Control Room Panjim 2428400
  • Police Control Room Porvorim 2416251
  • Police Station-Agacaim 2218000
  • Police Station-Anjuna 2273233
  • Police Station-Calangute 2278284
  • Police Station-Canacona 2643357
  • Police Station-Collem 2600233
  • Police Station-Colva 2788396
  • Police Station-Curchorem 2650568
  • Police Station-Cuncolim 2763234
  • Police Station-Bicholim 2362233
  • Police Station-Harbour 2520740
  • Police Station-Mapusa 2262231
  • Police Station-Maina Curtorim 2714787
  • Police Station-Margao 2705095
  • Police Station-Old Goa 2285301
  • Police Station-Panjim 2428482
  • Police Station-Pernem 2201233
  • Police Station-Ponda 2313101
  • Police Station-Porvorim 2417704
  • Police Station-Quepem 2662253
  • Police Station-Sanguem 2604233
  • Police Station-Vasco 2512304
  • Police Station-Valpoi 2374255
  • Police Station-Verna 2782325
  • Police Station-Women's PS 2428992

Roadways Enquiry

  • KTC (Kadamba-Goa) 2438034 to 2438037
  • MSRTC (Maharashtra) 2438253
  • KSRTC (Karnataka) 2438256

Official media

  • All India Radio 2224455
  • Doordarshan 2224312
  • Press Information Bureau 2226929

Get out

Panoramic view of the citybus station area of Panjim, Goa, circa 2006, when it was undergoing renovation. Alongside (not seen in photo) is the inter-state Kadamba Bus Terminus., Goa

Most tourists travel to and from Goa by bus. Book in advance during the crowded seasons (particularly during the Christmas-New Year rush, for Carnival, or when other Indian regions have school holidays when families travel). Trains connecting Goa offer an inexpensive and fairly pleasant ride, provided you get confirmed reserved seats. Unconfirmed travel can be pretty harrowing.

Goa is fairly well connected to other nearby Indian cities (Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, etc) via bus. One problem is that most buses ply in the night, and reach their destination the next morning. If you have a connecting bus, train or flight, this means that the timing you reach there might be inconvenient.

Kadamba Transport Corporation is the Goa state-run transport service. Its buses have seen better days, and more efficient times. There are also other state-run buses run by the governments of Karnataka (some services are efficient, specially the Volvo buses), Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. Many private players also offer bus connections to other cities, with varying levels of discounts and efficiency, with the two usually being inversely related.

The main center for booking train and bus tickets, in Panjim, is around the Kadamba inter-state bus terminus. Tickets for the Konkan Railway can also be booked here, though expect long queues during the holiday season (which in India, can also coincide with the timings when children have a school break).

Paulo Travels is a Goa-based private player, along with Sharma Transports, and Seabird Travels. You can get packages online also through Yatra, Cleartrip, MakeMyTrip, TravelMarg, SpriceTravel and TravelMasti



This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!