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Goa

From Wikitravel

Asia : South Asia : India : Western India : Goa
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Contents
  • Regions
  • Cities
  • Other destinations
  • Understand
  • Talk
  • [+] Get in
    • By bus
    • By train
    • By air
    • By sea
  • [+] Get around
    • By bike
    • By Jeep
    • By bus
  • [+] See
    • Beaches
  • Do
  • [+] Buy
    • Handicrafts
    • Museums, art centers
    • Scuba diving
    • Clothes
  • [+] Eat
    • Food
    • Value for money eateries
  • [+] Drink
    • Clubs
  • [+] Sleep
    • Budget
    • Mid-range
    • Splurge
  • [+] Contact
    • Mobile Phones
    • Internet
    • Opting for an ISP (for longer stays)
  • Stay safe
  • Public holidays
  • Get out
Panjim riverside, Goa
Panjim riverside, Goa

Goa [1] 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
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.

Cities

  • Panaji (Panjim, also referred to a Ponn'je in Konkani, and earlier called Pangim and Nova Goa during Portuguese rule) – the state capital
  • Margao (Madgaon)
  • Vasco Da Gama
  • Old Goa
  • Mapusa
  • Ponda

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:

  • Canacona

Other destinations

  • Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Dona Paula - a popular beach.
  • Fort Aguada
  • Calangute
  • Old Goa, home of famed sixteenth century churches, convents and monuments
  • Ponda taluka, the temple heartland of Goa
  • Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary

 

Understand

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 believe 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.

Talk

Goa's state language is Konkani. Most Goans speak Konkani, English, Hindi 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. Portuguese was the language of the educated-elite in the 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 mainly used tongue in the courts.

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 (Konkan Railway or via Londa, and by the many buses connecting the state with cities in India (primarily Mumbai and Bangalore). The once-popular steamer service that connected Goa with Bombay via a 22-hour inexpensive journey however no longer plies.

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 Bangalore and New Delhi.

By train

Indian Railways connect Goa from Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Mangalore, Ernakulam and Thiruvanantapuram (via Bangalore) and all other places in India.The destination station is usually Madgaon in Goa.There is a daily express train service from Delhi.Beware of Pickpockets, people who offer you snacks or Tea and other such people who make trains to Goa a regular hunting ground. Traveling to Goa by Konkan Railway is a real pleasure as the train passes thru greenery and many tunnels.
An important railway station which most tourists tend to miss is Thivim, which is served by Mangala-Lakshadweep express and is just 20 minutes away from Calangute beach by taxi.

For budget travellers, this is the cheapest option.

By air

Some airlines fly directly to Dabolim Airport (GOI) at Goa, but most international flights arrive via Mumbai.

Goa has daily flights to and from Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Pune (no flights return to Pune) and has flights twice a week to Chennai and Cochin.

Domestic Airlines flying into Goa include Kingfisher airlines, spicejet, Jet Airways, Indian Airlines, Air Deccan, Indigo and GoAir.

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.

By sea

The steamer and catamaran services connecting Goa with Mumbai no longer plies.

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. 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.

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.150 - Rs. 250 a day on a scooter and a little more if one is looking for a geared motorcycle.

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

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. It is prudent to ask your fellow passengers about the fare and the destination if you are not familiar with the distance or the place.

See

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.

Beaches

Sunset at the Palolem beach
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 and Benaulim - 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.

Following is a list of beaches in Goa, geographically, from north Goa to south:

In Pernem taluka:

  • Keri
  • Arambol
  • Ashvem
  • Morjim

In Bardez taluka:

  • Vagator
  • Anjuna
  • Baga
  • Calangute
  • Candolim
  • Sinquerim
  • Coco beach, Nerul

In Tiswadi taluka:

  • Miramar
  • Caranzalem
  • Cabo Raj Bhavan
  • Dona Paula
  • Vainguinim
  • Bambolim
  • Siridao

In Mormugao taluka:

  • Baina
  • Bogmalo
  • Hollant
  • Velsao
  • Arossim
  • Cansaulim

In Salcete taluka:

  • Utorda
  • Majorda
  • Betalbatim
  • Colva
  • Sernabatim
  • Benaulim
  • Varca
  • Fatrade
  • Cavelossim
  • Mobor
  • Betul

In Quepem taluka:

  • Tarir
  • Zorint
  • Caanguinim
  • Nuvem

In Canacona taluka:

  • Cabo de Rama
  • Khola, also known to tourists as Big Cola and Little Cola
  • Agonda
  • Butterfly Island
  • Palolem
  • Columb
  • Patnem
  • Rajbag
  • Talpona
  • Galjibag
  • Xendrem
  • Polem

Do

Parasailing at Colva beach
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
  • Observe the Tips For Safe Swimming While In Goa.
  • 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 strange 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 vistors. '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 favourite 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.

Buy

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.

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 centres 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.

Museums, art centers

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 and the Naval Aviation Museum. In the latter, you can see and touch vintage aircrafts like the Sealands, Doves, Alizes, Seahawks, Vampires and Huges Helicopters. 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 centres 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.

Scuba 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 dives 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 neighboring state of Karnataka.

  • Barracuda Diving, Panaji, [2].

 

  • Dive Goa, Panaji, 09325030109, [3].

 

  • Goa Aquatics, Candolim, 09822685025, [4].

 

  • Goa Diving, Vasco Da Gama, 2555117, [5].

 

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

Food

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.

 

  • Brito's, Baga - Known for its Mix meat platter, this place serves continental cuisines, The deserts offered are to die for.
  • Montego Bay Goa (Morjim)- full fledged restaurant serving Continental, Indian, Seafood and the local Goan Cuisine[6]
  • Cavala, Baga - Beautiful authentic Goan food in a charming setting. Also great entertainment is often featured!
  • Bella Ciao The Italian Restaurant at La Calypso Hotels, Saunta Vaddo, Calangute Baga road, Baga, Goa - 403516 - Phone: 0832 2275821 Italian
  • O'Coqueiro
  • Mirabai Goan Village, off Baga Road, Calangute. Phone: 98 22176808- The best! Authentic Goan food, excellent sea food, charming knowledgeable owner
  • Souza Lobo - Calangute (Its on the beach, you won't miss it)- King Fish and Seafood are excellent
  • After Seven Restaurant, Calangute (on the border of Candolim-Calangute). Telephone 91-832-227957. easily the best restaurant in Goa. It continues to be the benchmark for all other restaurants. Started by Leo, who speaks 4 languages and has travelled the world with the reputed Taj Group of Hotels, this restaurant has been around for 9 years. The chef used to head the culinary department of the famous Caribbean Cruise liners. The restaurant was formerly known as After Eight Restaurant, till Nestle decided that the restaurant was so good that it would prove competition to their mints, asked Leo to change the name, which he did in 2005.
  • Hotel Mandovi
  • Casa Andre's, Calangute
  • Martin's Corner, Betalbatim
  • Casa Portuguese, Baga
  • J & A's, Arpora
  • Mooncrest on the
  • Waves, Calangute
  • Mooncrest on the road to Baga beach
  • Tibetan Kitchen, Calangute - sizzling garlic prawn platter to die for.
  • La Resturaunt- Baga Road - French cuisine at its best
  • 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.
  • Bob's Inn on the main road from Calangute to Candolim.
  • Posh, at Nerul, near the post-office, opening in November 2007 for breakfast and lunch, a sister concern of After Seven Restaurant, Calangute

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.

Value for money eateries

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 sandwitches for Rs 10, tasty and easy-to-carry. (Couldn't we learn to use less plastic though?) 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. A favourite when we worked nearby, when riceplates were Rs 5 in the mid-eighties. We journos had this joke about writing a book 'How To Get The Most For Rs 5 At Ajanta'. Now, the standard meal costs 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!

 

Drink

Alcoholic BeveragesThe 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[7]. 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.
  • Club Cubana, Arpora Hill, Arpora.
  • 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

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

Apart from alcohol, which is very cheap, Goa is one of the more expensive states in India to stay. Though for a foreign tourist it is still very cheap. Peak season, which is 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 touristic places charge more in the season.

Budget

  • Montego Bay Goa [8].
  • Sussegado Nature Retreat, [9]. 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.

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

  • Cavala Seaside Resort - Baga
  • Montego Bay Goa Beach Villa, [10] Vithaldas Waddo,Morjim,Pernem,
  • Hotel Golden Nest, Calangute,

South Goa

  • Garca Branca Hse.#934 on Hwy.17B, Loutulim, Salcette. Rs.200-250 daily for renting a scooter (plus fuel), food at shaks is Rs 125/00 to Rs 150/00  per head

Splurge

There are plenty of star hotels in Goa. So, depending on the location, take your pick. Local environmental campaigners have been critical of the impact of a number of the luxury hotels in particular (apart from some others), specially because of the impact they are perceived to have on the environment, their tendency to build close to the sea (sometimes violating zoning laws) and their demand on local resources.

North Goa

  • Blue Beach Resort Goa, [09]
  • Mapple Viva Goa,  [10]
  • Neelam The Grand,  [11]
  • Suncity Hotel - Baga,  [12]
  • Marie Lou Goa, [13]
  • Phoenix Park Inn, [14]
  • Taj Fort Aguada, [15]
  • Taj Hermitage, [16]
  • Taj Holiday Village, [17]

Central Goa

  • Cidade de Goa, [18]
  • The Majestic, [19] - 5 Star
  • Bambolim Beach Resort, [20] - 3 Star
  • The Menino Regency, [21] - 2 Star
  • / Marriott, [22]
  • Vainguinim Valley Resort, [23]

South Goa

  • Varca Palms Beach Resort, [24]
  • The Oceanique Resort, [25]
  • Club Mahindra, [26]
  • Goa Renaissance
  • Holiday Inn, [27]
  • Intercontinental, the Grand, [28]
  • Kenilworth Beach Resort, [29]
  • Majorda Beach Resort, [30]
  • Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa, [31]
  • Radisson White Sands, [32]
  • Taj Exotica, [33]
  • The Leela, [34] (5 star Luxury hotel)

Contact

Mobile Phones

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[35] - GSM
  • Airtel[36] - GSM
  • Hutch[37] (formerly owned by BPL Mobile[38]) - GSM
  • BSNL-Cell One - GSM
  • Reliance Mobile[39] - CDMA
  • Tata Indicom[40] - 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.

Opting for an ISP (for longer stays)

Goa's BSNL internet service provider is already providing some 3000 broadband connections in the state, and roughly another 24,000 people dial-up to get access the Net using this central government-run service. (Figures relate to approx 2006). Gene Lobo of Aldona runs Systeck Computer Solutions at 7-12 Braganza Trade Centre (opposite Mapusa’s Remanso Hospital, ph +91-832-2266433) in Goa. On Aldona-Net, one of the village-based mailing lists in Goa, he said:

  • BSNL* (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited). The CLI is best for visitors. As they pay only for what they use and there is no rent nor time limit for this connection. Keep in mind it is a dial-up connection. If a visitor wants high speed then he can go for rental broadband. Modem rent (100 per month) and the monthly plan charges, which can be surrendered before leaving. You do not need to buy the modem in this case. For the above plans you have to have a BSNL land line.
  • RELIANCE* This option is available with the WLL Reliance connection, it is a mobile unit (the size of a land phone) you can get the connection wherever there is Reliance coverage. You have to apply for internet cable (USB/Serial) and the connection is easy. Note: Reliance has been sometimes criticised for excess billing so you have to be cautious. This is not a broadband connection as they claim, is a wireless connection (better than a dial-up) and speeds are pretty good.
  • TATA Indicom* Same as Reliance. Tataindicom boradband (you have to have a Tata (Hughes) land line. You can get an ADSL broadband connection (like BSNL). Not recommended for visitors.

For BSNL (i.e. for what is defined as “broadband” in India) the rates are as follows: For a basic connection it will cost you Modem Rs. 1200 Registration charges Rs. 100 Installation Rs. 250. Total Rs. 1,550. This is a monthly plan where you have to pay Rs. 250 per month for a rent and you are allowed 400 MB of upload/download per month.

According to UK-based editor of the Goan Voice Eddie Fernandes, who checked out various options in late November 2005, the Reliance offer looked appealing but one has to buy a Reliance handset. He wrote: "Since I also required a mobile phone service, the one I opted for was Idea GPRS package which required a Bluetooth mobile phone and Bluetooth nabled laptop, which I had. The Idea package, MWA (Mobile Web Access) 500 cost Rs 500 a month and allowed free unlimited internet onnection and data download. There are other cheaper packages vailable though - see Idea Cellular options. I was able to connect via the modem in the mobile phone from almost anywhere in Goa, even sitting in a car or restaurant. The speed was not brilliant but opening multiple windows for surfing did the trick. I was also able to use the Idea account to make and receive telephone calls."

Stay safe

Goa is a generally safe state, but as with any tourism dependent economy, it has its fair share of petty crime and touts.

Please remember these important points when you are visiting Goa:

  • Avoid sex with strangers, as there is always a risk of AIDS
  • Do not accept rides from strangers, especially at night
  • Do not indulge in drugs, as police in Goa, are very strict and cannot be easily bribed.
  • Do not indulge in hard drugs; because, while Goa might be nice, you don't want to die there.
  • Be careful when wading at the beach as undercurrents can be very strong, many tourists lives have been lost to the seas. 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. The safe swimming period in Goa is October to April.
  • The flesh of ripe cashew-nut fruit contains the same irritant chemical (urusiol)as poison ivy. Avoid contact with unprocessed cashew fruit, and save yourself two weeks of unbearable skin rash!
  • Goans are very friendly and helpful, should you have any problems talk to the the nearest Goan shop, restaurant or bystander.
  • 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.
  • Temperatures in winter and summer can be extreme, do not forget sunscreen.
  • Beware of hawkers who always mark up their goods, up to 300%
  • 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)

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). Other shopping centres are more buyer-friendly.

Major public or special holidays are around 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 and Christmas; Mahashivratri, Holi and Id-e-milad. Banks may remain open during local religious celebrations. Weekend: Saturday and Sunday.

Get out

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 teh 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, with a fleet of buses connecting various locations. It's main booking office is at the Cardozo Building, near the Kadamba Bus Stand in Panjim (Phone 2438531). It can also do return-bookings, via telephone, say from Bangalore to Goa (as can some other bus services, like the computer-linked Karnataka's KSRTC, which also has a booking office nearby to Paulo's). Paulo offers 'sleeper' bus travel, a concept which crowds in passengers into horizontal sleeper space(If you have ticket numbered as say 5A ,then you have to share bed with person having ticket 5B so always confirm sharing of bed, better buy both tickets A and B so you dont have to share the bed ). Depending on how tall and claustrophic you are, you might enjoy or hate such a service. Nevertheless, Paulo's is a significant player in the Goa private bus transport space. Paulo's buses leave from Panjim and Mapusa to Mumbai (3.30 pm, 7 pm, 7.30 pm and 9 pm), Pune (7 pm, 8 pm and 9 pm), Aurangabad (9 pm), Aurangabad (9 pm), Kolhapur (9.30 am, 4 pm, 7 pm, 8 pm and 9 pm), Bangalore (3.30 pm, 6.30 pm and 8.30 pm), Mangalore (8 pm), Belgaum (9.30 am and 4 pm), Bijapur (8.30 pm), Bagalkot (8.30 pm), Hampi (8 pm), Ahmedabad (9.30 am), Surat (9.30 am), Hyderabad (4 pm). Buses also start and pick-up passengers from Vasco, Margao, Ponda and Calangute an hour earlier.


 

M/s Hotel Partners in Goa, "H.No.99", Deusa, Chicalim, Mormugao Taluka, Goa - 403 711, (M) +91 9422059688
Email : travelgoa@gmail.com / info@hotelpartnersingoa.com

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