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Know Before You Go
- If you are looking to experience Goa's nightlife, head to the north. You won't have a problem finding the famous all-night beach parties, just follow the music. But if you want to get away from the crowds, go to the south. The beaches are cleaner and less crowded.
- Goa follows the Portuguese tradition of afternoon siestas. Many businesses close for lunch between 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and also stay closed on Sundays.
- If you are heading out of the city, don't rely on Google Maps to get you to your final destination. It's known to fail outside the larger hubs. Rather ask your hotel for detailed directions.
- Goan curries are spicier than other curries in the country. If you can't handle the heat, let your waiter know, so the chef knows to go easy on the chillies.
- High tide and dangerous currents are marked with red flags on the beaches. If you see one, it's better to avoid going into the water even if the ocean looks calm. The rip currents are strong, and the murky weather conditions make visibility difficult for the few life guards that are on duty.
Getting Around Goa
- The best and most affordable way to get around Goa is with a scooter or motorbike. Rentals start at INR 200 to INR 300 per day depending on the type of bike. But during high season (November to January) prices double to meet the demand. Petrol is also cheap with most shops selling a litre for INR 60 to INR 80.
- Buses are another inexpensive, but crowded way to get around. A 30 to 40 km ride should cost you between INR 10 to 15, and the names of the bus stops will be written on the front side of each bus.
- Hiring a car is a cost effective way to explore Goa, especially if you plan to get out of the city. A daily rate package of 8 hours or 80 km is INR 1,000 to INR 1,500 with extra charges set at INR 100 per hour.
- If you don't have much time in Goa, one of the best ways to see its sights is to buy a ticket for the hop on hop off bus. The air conditioned double decker buses run through the city centre, and each comes with a knowledgeable English speaking guide. A one day pass costs INR 300 and the best time to go is on the weekends when there is little traffic on the roads.
- The least cost effective way to get around is with private taxis and auto rickshaws. There is no meter system, and the drivers often ignore the fixed prices allocated by the government. To avoid being ripped off, rather rent your own wheels. You'll save money and end up seeing more at your own pace.
When is The Best Time to Visit Goa?
The most popular time to visit Goa is from November to February. During this period you'll find beach parties almost every night and enjoy some of the state's best weather. In December, you can attend the popular Sunburn festival and take part in the many Christmas and New Year Celebrations. But keep in mind that it is peak season and prices for accommodation will be at their highest.
The hottest time of year in Goa is from March to May. The temperature reaches an average of 36°C with high humidity, making outdoor activities almost unbearable. But if you can handle the heat and aren't looking for the legendary parties, it's the quietest time of year to visit. You'll also find the lowest rates on hotels and home stays, which is ideal for travellers on a tight budget.
One of the most beautiful times of year to visit Goa is during monsoon season. From June to September, the countryside is a vibrant, lush green, and there are parties everywhere welcoming the rains. There is also the festival of Sao-Joao that takes place in late June where men jump into overflowing wells to fetch bottles of Feni. While it is still a busy period, it's not peak season, and it's possible to find bargains on accommodation and flights.
Airports in Goa
Goa International Airport
Goa International Airport, also known as Dabolim Airport is 4 km from the nearest city Vasco da Gama. It operates between 130 to 140 flights per day, and several European airlines fly to the airport during its peak season.
Getting To and From Goa International Airport
The most convenient way to get from the airport to your hotel is with a taxi, but it is also the most expensive option. Expect to pay around INR 400 to INR 500 for a single trip to the Panaji city centre. If you want to avoid getting ripped off by the drivers, use the prepaid taxi booth outside the arrivals terminal.
If you are visiting Goa on a tour or staying at a decent hotel, ask for a free shuttle service from the airport. It may even be worthwhile to book one night at such a place to reduce the hassle and avoid using public transportation.
While there are local buses that stop at the airport, they are not regular and often crowded. If you have lots of luggage, rather fork out for the taxi. But if you are a backpacker and don't mind your trip taking a bit longer it's a good option.
Lastly, if you want to hire a car, there are several car rental companies at the airport that you can choose from.