Travel Tips to get the most out of your Goa visit
I’m sure by now you know that I absolutely LOVE Goa. I love it so much that I spent many hours a few days back in my attempt to create the most detailed guide on the internet to North Goa!
In the past few years, I have seen many Goa travel tips on different websites that say things like “carry sunscreen” or “carry comfortable flat sandals or flip flops”.
Yes, these tips are correct but don’t you think they are pretty darn obvious?
Of course, if you’re visiting a beach destination, you’re going to have to carry sunscreen and flip-flips.
Anyway, I want to help first-time Goa visitors and have decided to share a little more insight about things you need to keep in mind before visiting Goa. Here are some essential Goa travel tips to help you get the most out of your visit to this glorious destination.
Travel Tips for Goa
Table of Contents
1) Visa for Goa.. umm India
Based on the volume of people who visit my website from other countries, I feel it is necessary to add information for obtaining a visa for India in this article.
If you don’t know this already – I’m married to a German and he often applies for a tourist visa to visit India. India doesn’t offer a visa-free entry OR a visa on arrival but you can apply for an eVisa. Sadly the government-run website for an eVisa for India or a general tourist visa for India is not so simple to use and usually gives errors on things as simple as picture upload.
Based on the number of painful hours my husband has spent on the Indian embassy’s eVisa website, I highly recommend you make things simpler for yourself and check iVisa. We availed their service when we were in the Philippines and it really made things simpler for us.
2) Goa High Season – When NOT to Visit Goa
Goa doesn’t just have high and low seasons, but it also has peak and moderate seasons. Here are some more details:
|Good to visit but rooms are expensive because of the high demand||High Season||Most of the shacks, and beach bars are shut but it’s a good time to enjoy Goa’s rainy season|
|March to May||Moderate Season||Good time to visit. Shacks and beach bars begin shutting down for the season. Look out for season closing parties.|
|May to August||Low Season||Good time to visit. Shacks and beach bars begin opening up for the season. Look out for season-opening parties.|
|September to October||Moderate Season||Good to visit but rooms are expensive because of the high demand|
|November to Mid December||High Season||Mid-December to Mid January|
|Mid-December to Mid-January||Peak Season||Do not visit around this time. Room rates skyrocket. Lots of traffic jams and Goa loses its amazing vibe.|
The low season is from May to mid-September, the High is from November to the middle of December and the peak is from the middle of December to the middle of January.
Avoid visiting Goa during the peak season because you will waste a lot of time in traffic jams.
If you must visit during this time, try to find the most secluded beaches. Chances are, even those beaches will not be secluded during the peak season.
During the New Year and Christmas time, many city folks from all over India (especially Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore) visit Goa.
3) Where Not to Stay in Goa
I have mentioned this before and I want to mention this again – Goa offers way more than Calangute – Baga – Candolim or Anjuna beaches. Trust me, these above-mentioned beaches are definitely some of the most crowded ones and no longer have a “Goa vibe”.
For more details about where to stay, check out my post about North Goa Beaches and beyond.
4) You DON’T need to book a place to stay in advance, unless…
Unless you’re visiting very late at night and don’t have time to hunt for a bed, or you’re visiting at peak season, which is December 20 to January 5, I’d recommend you not to prebook your place.
Most travel websites will brainwash you into booking a room because they sell rooms on their websites or on a commission basis. If you book in advance, you miss out on places that don’t advertise on the internet but only through word of mouth.
5) Save money from Goa Airport to your hotel
If you’re visiting Goa, most likely you’re going to arrive here by flight. Unlike most of India, tuk-tuks are not so easily available in Goa.
The cost of traveling in Goa is usually low except the taxis are expensive and unfortunately that’s the only mode of communication you will find at the airports. However, there is a way you can save money on your taxi fare.
At the prepaid taxi counter queue just at the exit gate of the airport, just ask around and try to find fellow travelers who are heading in your direction. Most likely, you will easily find people to share a taxi with for your destination. This has always worked for me!
6) Reaching Goa Airport by Bus
It is possible to get to the airport by bus. From North Goa (let’s say Morjim), take a tuk-tuk (or taxi) to Silom or Mapusa bus stand, and from there catch an express bus to Panjim (Panaji). From Panjim, you need to catch a bus to Vasco and it will drop you 2 KMs away from the airport.
Make sure you let the bus driver know that you have to reach the airport because there’s no proper bus stop where they will drop you off. Do this only if you’re ready to walk with your luggage.
Keep in mind that the last bus from Panjim to Vasco departs at 7 and the queue behind the ticket counter is usually massive, so take out an extra 30 minutes or more for this.
Similarly, if you’re in South Goa (let’s say Agonda), you need to take a tuk-tuk to the nearest bus stand and then take a bus to Margao Bus Terminal. From Margao, board a bus (or Kadamba shuttle) to Vasco. Try finding a bus that goes from Maragao to Vasco via Majorda. Again, make sure you inform your driver that you need to get to the airport so that he can drop you to the nearest point.
Do this only if you have a lot of time before your flight. It took us 4 hours to travel from Vagator to the airport by bus. Looking back, it isn’t worth the hassle but those were my backpacking days when I had a lot of time and hardly any money.
7) Best Way to Explore Goa
If you like walking, you will only be able to explore your beach area and around. If you want to explore further, I’d recommend you rent a scooter.
Exploring Goa on a rented scooter is the best and the most affordable option. These scooters are usually available for INR 300 – 500 per day.
Please make sure you carry your driver’s license because there are many checkpoints. It is possible to rent cars too but many spots can only be accessed by scooters or on foot.
8) Where Not to Swim in Goa
In Goa, certain areas are marked by red flags which means it’s dangerous to swim there. The sea will appear to be calm but the undercurrents are powerful and dangerous. If you go inside, you will be transported to the open sea much faster than you can swim.
These are the situations when people drown because they try to fight to current in their panic. Most likely, you will see a lot of people in the water already but please follow the rules and don’t be an idiot.
Oh and on a side note, don’t swim in the stretch of ocean in front of Curlees and Shiva Valley of Anjuna because I have personally seen people puking in that water after Anjuna’s crazy parties.
9) A tip about Goan Food
Do you love Indian food? You’re going to LOVE Goan food. However, keep in mind that the Goan curries are spicier than most of the Indian curries.
If you can’t handle spice, make sure you inform your restaurant staff to go easy on the chilies. I love spicy Goan food but San can’t handle the chili overdose.
10) How not to get ripped off
Shopping in Goa is fun because of the variety of things that you can buy. Lamps, incense sticks, swimsuits, clothes, jewelry, tea, spices, fruits – almost everything that you will possibly need will be available on the streets.
While grocery stores have fixed prices, street shop vendors will hike the price when they see that you’re not a local.
To avoid getting ripped off, you need to learn how to haggle like a pro. As a rule of thumb, cut the quoted price in half and then negotiate your way to a middle figure. Do not forget to smile when you do this.
If you find something unique at a high price, most likely it’s handmade, and maybe it’s worth the price, so just buy it.
11) Find the best parties in Goa
Ok, so you have heard that Goa is the birthplace of psychedelic trance and you want to experience a typical old-school Goa trance party. But how to find the best PsyTrance parties? Well, stay in the Vagator area and just follow the music. There is usually a party every night.
Ask around and you will find out. When you reach the party and if you ever get hungry, you will definitely find affordable snacks right outside the parties.
Outside every party are rows of Ammas (older mother-like women) with stoves selling cheese omelet buns, burgers, cigarettes, water, and tea. These Ammas usually know where is the next party so just ask them.
12) Be Safe in Goa
While Goa is safer than most of India and perhaps many parts of the world, it doesn’t hurt to take typical safety precautions. Trust your instincts and don’t accept drinks from strangers. When in doubt, head to the nearest shop and contact a local to seek help.
13) Respect the Culture, the Nature and Goa way of life
Yes, Goa is perhaps the most open-minded destination in India and the locals are liberal. But please don’t treat their home as your “nonstop party on the road” destination.
I don’t know why I’m even typing this but I feel it’s my responsibility to inform you that you should cover yourself a little more than what you do at the beach if you end up visiting any of the churches.
Please don’t leave your trash on the beach. If you find any, just pick it up and put it in the nearest dustbin. Oh and don’t forget that most of the shacks (beach bar and restaurants) are run by families and you should not expect a five-star service. Appreciate what you get and don’t forget to smile.
Enjoyed these Goa travel tips? Why not share with a friend? If you live in Goa or have visited it a few times, why don’t you add your own tip in the comments?
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