Friday, December 31, 2010

GOA – An international tourist destination of India

India's West region, is a former Portuguese colony with rich history. Goa has a unique mix of native and Portuguese cultures and architecture that attracts an estimated 2.5 million visitors each year (including about 400,000 foreign tourists).

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.

Get around:
Parts of Goa lack sign-boards, so finding your way around will be a challenge. When in doubt just ask - usually people are friendly and helpful- don't expect precise answers though (a so-called 'five minute drive' could take a good twenty). 
While driving, expect surprises like domestic animals and little children darting across the road and unmarked speed breakers / speed bumps. 

By motorbike
Choice of geared and un-geared motorbikes and scooters can be borrowed on rent (typically without helmets). Those planning to stay long can consider buying them too. Rentals are around Rs 250 (+fuel yours) a day on a scooter and a little more if one is looking for a geared motorcycle.

Wearing a crash helmet is compulsory when you go on any major roads, ask for local advice. Rs 100 fine for not wearing, or a large hospital bill.

By bus 
Fares: 4-6 rupees and buses a great way to travel and see the country and are inexpensive. 10-15 rupees often get you a 30-40km ride. 
You can choose city tour bus for just Rs. 125-150 pp for South Goa / North Goa.

By car
Mahindra, Willys or Maruti Gypy makes are similar to the long wheel base version of the Suzuki Jimmy. Some of these jeeps are open roof. Expect to pay around Rs. 700 - Rs. 800 a day.

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

Anjuna Beach - Close to the Chapora Fort, North Goa.

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.

Vagator Beach - a beach in Bardez, neighbouring Anjuna

Morjim Beach - beautiful beach, inhabited by Russian tourists. Prices are high, many restaurants with Russian cousine. Nightlife is vibrant here. This place is popular among kitesurfers due shallow depth of the sea and very wide beach.

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. Beach is full of Indian tourists, a lot of noise, a lot of souvenirs and water sports beggar. You won't get peace here. Many famous clubs are located here. Nice eating options. 

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.

•  Relax at the beaches. Goa has an almost unbroken 70 km coastline of beaches 
•  Visit historic Hindu temples and the cathedrals of a bygone era at Old Goa 
•  Enjoy the variety of Indian, Chinese and western cuisine 
•  Chill out at the discos and pubs 
•  Checkout Anjuna flea market 
•  Visit libraries
•  Diving
•  Kitesurfing
•  Paragliding
•  Water Scooter

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. Check out traditional Goan lacquerware toys. One Goan unique product is that of hand-painted ceramics.

Food : 
The Goan staple diet consists of rice and fish curry along with pickles and fried fish. Dishes such as Vindaloo and Xacuti (pronounced Cha'cuti) will be familiar from Indian restaurant menus, and are originally Goan dishes. 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. Here, you can find so many restaurants with sea food is available.

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 flavors, Cashew nut and Coconut.

Stay :
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. All tourist spots charge more in the peak season. 
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 accommodation near a rustic beach.

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

Western women should not walk on the beaches at night alone. If you have to, take along a companion. 
Do not accept un-bottled drinks from strangers under any circumstances. 
Do not accept rides from strangers, locals or foreigners, especially at night. 
Do not indulge with drugs. 
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. 
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 agree on regular business. 
Temperatures in winter and summer can be extreme, so 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. 
Beware of guides offering to take you to a disco with lots of attractive girls, who will dance with you. This is a sucker scam to cheat you of your money. 
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. Also, you can book your railway ticket online on

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