Not so many people know much about Goa except those who are exploring nooks and corners of Goa or living there. Goa is rich in art, nature, culture, history, mining, iconic Indo-Portuguese architectures (churches and houses) / structures and one of the few places in India that allows (legal) casinos to operate (basically, ‘Floating Casinos’). At one corner Goa is a part of Globalization, at the other part it’s a 19th century peaceful living style, barter system still playing role. Sometimes I wonder how anyone just visit Goa to stay at luxury properties and never stepped out. Well, we live by our choices, always 🙂
Sometimes to get to know about the strange lands we are traveling it is not easy. There is always a different picture in actual. So I have compiled a list of useful tips which might help in making your trip a good one and memorable. These tips are by no means a comprehensive list but they will help you plan your trip before your embark on it and also when you are actually in Goa.
1. GOA IS NOT JUST ‘NORTH’ AND ‘SOUTH’. IT’S A SCAVENGER HUNT.
Geographically Goa is divided into two parts — North Goa and South Goa. The North Goa is for party lovers as it offers best clubbing experiences. Witness the magical psychedelic trance at Anjuna, Vagator, Morjim snd Mandrem beach. Whereas South Goa is loaded with tranquility. But wait… there is more than that, the East Side of Goa which less people talk about it.
Goa doesn’t have only Dudhsagar Waterfalls, there are other waterfalls in Goa. Salaulim Dam – Duckbill Spillway is a natural overflow mechanism for water that surrounded by Botanical Garden . Cotiago Sanctuary – If one wants to see multi-storeyed forests with tall trees and rare plants, where hardly any light reaches the ground, Cotigao Sanctuary is the place to go to. It touches the border of Karnataka state and in the lean season, several gaurs are known to come into Cotigao from its neighborhood. The vegetation is mostly moist-deciduous type, interspersed with semi-evergreen and evergreen patches. Spice Plantation Ponda – It was Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama who was the first to finally reach India in 1497, successfully navigating the southern tip of Africa. He returned from his landing spot on the southwest coast of India with his ships laden with nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and peppercorn.
Goa is also home for brilliant museums and art galleries 🙂 Museum of Goa (MOG) and Big Foot are my favorite. I did write about Museum of Goa (MOG) recently and have pictures journal for Big Foot. There are other museum too and you can read about it here.
2. IT’S OKAY TO GET LOST IN GOA BUT NOT IN DARK
In Goa, not all roads have road lights and not all area have good mobile receptions. Do not forget to download ‘offline google map’ for safety. Ask for directions. If you head out of the city, don’t rely on Google Maps, it tends to fail you outside Goa’s larger hubs. It’s no match for the many criss-crossing roads running through the villages. Goa is a labyrinth maze sometimes 🙂 I have been lost in Goa so many times. But always trust your guts.
3. NOT EVERY BEACH IS SAFE TO STAY LONGER OR FOR SWIMMING. BEWARE OF JELLY FISH
There are many abandon beach corners in Goa. Some says it is haunted (no personal experience). Some beach like Calangute will creep you out. There are people hanging out there which hailed from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and they are drunk AF! to even walk steady. Always ask local people before you decide to hit the beach. (But, trust me! avoid Calangute Beach please!!)
Well, Jelly Fish are rather nice to see, but will turn out to be rather painful to touch. Southern Goa happens to have a higher number of jellyfish. But, do not let this jellyfish fear discourage you! However, make sure to keep your expensive jewelry out of bay before you try any water sport, as jellyfish are intrigued by shiny objects. In case you are unlucky and get jellyfish sting, stay away from water as it might elevate the pain further. See a doctor for relief!
Also, before deciding walking barefoot at beach, beware of mud crabs. Watch the clip below.
4. GOA IS “NOT” ALL ABOUT DRUGS AND RAVE PARTIES
Architectures, Museums and Art Galleries, Forts, Waterfalls, Nature, Kayaking, Scuba Diving, Island hopping, Fishing, Fun Cruises, Flea Markets, Hippie Life and much much much more! Doesn’t your city have the other side of coin which you never care about?? Well same applied for Goa 🙂
5. LOCAL TRANSPORTS
If I am traveling, I always make sure to use more local transportation instead of hiring a full time cab or ordered an uber every time. In Goa, things play differently. You can hire bike/activa or car/jeep from a local vendors, it’s the main business of transport in Goa.
Goa is well connected with bus and train transports as well. Like I board the non-ac bus from Colva for Panjim (appx 35 kms) and it cost me INR 15 only while return it was INR 45 for AC bus, journey time (one way): 1hr to 1hr 15mins. But if I choose a local taxi it would have cost me INR 300-350 around for return journey. I took train from Madgaon to Karmali-Old Goa (appx 33 kms) and it cost me INR 140, journey time: 30 mins.
GOA FERRY: Boats and Ferries in Goa are important means of internal transportation. Various small villages surrounding the coast of Goa are connected by ferry. This is my favourite part being in Goa, island hopping in ferries and trust me this the most beautiful and scenic route of Goa.
Main ferry routes are:
1. Panjim and Betim for the Back Road to Candolim and Calangute.
2. Kerim and Tiracol for the Terekhol Fort.
3. Ribander and Old Goa for Divar Island.
4. Ribander and Chorao for Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.
5. Cavelossim and Assolna for Reaching the areas of Banaulim to Palolem.
6. Cortalim and Madkaim for reaching Old Goa from Madgaon.
Ticket collectors have been appointed for the sale of tickets on board the ferries at some point, where as many ferry points have FREE tickets (Ribander/Old Goa to Churao Island and Divar Island, Panjim to Betim). You can board the ferry with your vehicles. The ferry rates are fixed by the Government of Goa from time to time and it’s very reasonable. Maximum charges are up to INR 55 only. On board ferryboats wooden benches are provided for sitting purposes. Each ferryboat is provided with first aid facilities, Lifesaving Appliances and Fire Fighting equipment to take care of any eventuality.
GOA MILES: Like rest of India have uber, Goa have Goa Miles, an initiative of Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) and Frotamiles. If you have been to Goa before August 6th, 2018, you might be aware that the local taxi drives charge a lot from tourist. Goa Miles brought the revolution in Goa. You can simply book it thru mobile app and the charge will be reasonable.
Local Taxi charge INR 1500 to 1800 and INR 2000 to 2500 for midnight till 6AM ride from Airport to Panjim while Goa Miles charge INR 730 to 800 and INR 900 to INR 950 for midnight till 6AM ride.
But, there are 2 things you should know about Goa Miles:
- You need to load the money in Goa Miles app wallet before booking the taxi. Because sometimes there are less number of taxi available around.
- There are many remote areas in Goa where mobile receptions are really low, you cannot book the Goa Miles. However you can call on their customer care to get an assistant: +919607198989 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
B.LIVE ELECTRIC BIKE: Conceptualized by the electric vehicle tourism platform B:Live, the e-bikes are equipped with state-of-the-art features like GPS trackers, battery-powered motors that can reach speeds of up to 25kmph, and electronic disc brakes for enhanced safety. They can presently be hired for tours of Panaji, Divar and Old Goa. You can check it out here. Recently Jade – That Goan Girl blogger have explored Divar Island on B.Live e-bike. You can read her story here.
6. HOP ON HOP OFF BY GOA TOURISM (HOHO GOA)
The Hop On – Hop Off bus is here to make your Goa experience more delightful than ever! Explore the best of Central Goa’s Capital City along the river Mandovi and Old Goa’s historical monuments. Experience visiting city’s famous church, Miramar beach, and Dona Paula jetty points, boating points, State Museum, Hustling bustling City Market, pass by mix of new and colonial architectural structures, eating joints, cafes and witness prominent cultural centre, Garden, Casino Point, and River Cruise Point while riding along the river Mandovi.
Go back in time while in Old Goa, beside the Mandovi River – The former capital of Portuguese India, known for its colonial-era monuments like the Basilica of Bom Jesus, with the remains of St. Francis Xavier, and the domed Church of St. Cajetan, inspired by St. Peter’s in Rome. Nearby, the vast Se Cathedral, built in the 16th–17th centuries, has ornate chapels and a bell tower. Explore historical landmarks, Heritage Monuments, Archaeological Museum and much more!
1) Unlimited rides to explore 17+ tourist attractions that awaits for you on the route.
2) You are free to board the bus anywhere on the designated route and 17 bus stops.
3) 02 days validity pass [consecutive usage] to ride on scheduled bus routes between 9:00am – 05:30pm.
4) English speaking Guest Relation Executive on bus.
5) Free –HOHO Goa route map and tourist attraction brief Information leaflet.
6) Automatic GPS enabled audio commentary on board in English – 17 Tourist Attractions.
7) Multilingual audio commentary – Easy downloadable option upon boarding the bus.
8) Experience riding Double Deck Bus and Single Deck Bus while crossing interchange points on route.
9) AC section on Double decker and AC Single decker bus [AC section* – first come first served basis].
10) Ideal frequency at 45 minutes to get on / get down.
11) Safe, Comfortable, Economical with CCTV surveillance, GPS tracking and monitoring., and Mobile charging facility on board.
12) Customer care back-up number during service operational hours 9:00am – 05:30pm
Note: Please be informed that, as on date, HOHO Goa sightseeing Bus is not equipped for wheel chaired tourists with disability.
HOHO Goa Bus Starting Points:
Point 1: GTDC’s Paryatan Bhavan at 08:55 AM – 09:25 AM – 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM Address: GTDC’s Paryatan Bhavan, Patto Plaza Centre, Panaji-Goa. Search in Google Map: Paryatan Bhavan, Patto, Panaji.
Point 2: HOHO Goa Office @09:00 AM – 09:30 AM – 10:05 AM – 10:35 AM Address: HOHO Goa, Shop 15-B, Kamat Tower, Patto Plaza Centre, Panaji – Goa. Landmark: Near Bank of India
Search in Google Map: HOHO Goa, Patto, Panaji
HOHO Goa Bus Boarding Points: Apart from HOHO Bus Starting Point, You are free to board any of the 17 Bus Stops on route covered covering Panaji City + Old Goa at 1hr* frequency. If you miss one, there comes another.
7. DO NOT THROW WASTE ON THE BEACH!! COLLECT EMPTY BEER BOTTLES AND GET A BEERS IN AN EXCHANGE
THIS IS A COMMON SENSE but…. people are throwing away too much trash in the ocean and its getting worse every day!! Dumping sewage in the ocean has always been considered the cheapest and the easiest way of disposing of wastes. The billions of tons of litter end up in the ocean each year reportedly bring 250 million tons of trash into the sea every year. Beaches covered with plastic wastes are not a rare scene in these days. Besides the large chunk of industrial wastes, the dumping of plastic is another biggest source of pollution as it slowly leads to adverse effects. Materials like plastic are non-degradable which means they will not be absorbed and recycled. When oceanic creatures and even birds consume plastic inadvertently, they choke on it which causes a steady decline in their population. Activists say who suffer from the plastic debris are dolphins, sharks, turtles, crabs, and sea birds, among others.
I won’t bore you with other details because you all are aware about this. But how you can you help to protect the environment?? Though you can always pick the garbage / beer bottles, segregate it and dump it / give it to people who make best out of the waste. But there is this great initiative in Goa called Tera Mera Beach where you drop by at Shacks and take the beach clean-up movement to a heady new level by bringing us bottle caps, cigarette butts, and plastic straws you find on the beach for free beers and beverages. HERE IS THE LINK.
There is one interesting thing that I would like to share. While visiting Houses of Goa Museum, my eyes caught something really interesting. Exactly next to the building there is a primary Shiksha Niketan. The school premises have a huge place where the whole wall is made up of liquor bottles. Amazing creativity!!
8. PETROL PUMPS / GAS STATIONS
You might find this thing odd, but Goa petrol price is cheaper than other Indian State. I don’t exactly know the reason but the only thing I can tell you, if you are traveling to remote areas in Goa, make sure travel with full tank. There are many areas which have less numbers of petrol pumps / gas stations.
9. STAY LIKE LOCALS. DON’T BE TOURIST ALL THE TIME
Rent a flat or home instead of a hotel room is the best way to stay local. Airbnb is best place to rent a home 🙂 Use public transportation. Walk more. Eat local food from small joints. Go fishing. Connect with local. Take a part in local events.
Last year in December I stayed at Airbnb hosted by Nasim and Alim, located at Panjim. I call it a “Blue House”. It was my best 5 days stays. Hospitality on top notch!! Every morning Nasim cook us (I and my mother) scrumptious masala omelette with pav. They have other breakfast menu too. They take care of the guest like family. They also got “super host” tag on Airbnb ❤ Can’t wait to go back again!! Without second thought I am going to book their house again when I visit Panjim.
10. GOAN LOCAL CURRY DISH IS SPICIER THAN ANY INDIAN DISH
The Goan cuisine is an interesting mix of varied influences. The long period of Portuguese rule, besides that of the Muslim and Hindu kingdoms, has left an indelible influence on the original style of Goan cooking and this has led to an exotic mix of truly tasty and spicy cuisine. Most people who sample Goan cuisine, enjoy this different and unique style of food which has a distinct and unique combination of spicy flavours. The tropical climate has influenced the food of Goa making Goan food intense in flavours and spices. The staple food of the people of Goa is rice and fish curry. Most of their dishes use coconuts, rice, fish, pork, meat and local spices like kokum.
Ambot Tik is a Portuguese influenced Goan dish. ‘Ambot’ means sour and ‘tik’ means spicy. Red chillies (Kashmiri) are used to add spice to the dish and Kokum (Garcinia indicia) is used to make the dish taste sour.
I never had nerve to try authentic spicy Goan cuisine and always settle for simple non-spicy Fish / Prawns Curry with steamed rice 😀
Xitti Kodi: The Goan fish curry or the Xitti Kodi is the staple diet of every Goan. The Goan fish curry is loaded with various spices along with coconut. Raw mango is also used to give the dish a tangy flavour. The main ingredients of the dish are a decent sized Pomfret and a raw mango. Instead of Pomfret, Kingfish may also be used. This Goan dish is served along with rice.
Chicken Xacuti: It is onsists of poppy seeds and Kashmiri red chillies. This is yet another Portuguese influenced dish. The Goan curry consists of chicken, potatoes, onions, coconuts, chillies, and other spices. Kashmiri chillies are specifically used as they give intense hot flavour and also give colour to the dish. This is one of the most popular Goan Food.
Goan Pork Vindaloo: ‘Vin’ comes from the word vinegar and ‘ahlo’ means garlic in Portuguese. It is said that this dish was previously called Vindahlo but because of the use of potatoes, folks started calling it Vindaloo (aloo means potatoes). The dish consists of pork, onions, chillies, garlic along with Vinegar and other spices. Masala is prepared using the chillies and other ingredients and is then mixed with meat and vinegar. This mixture is stored overnight. The dish is then friend using onions and other herbs. The older the dish gets, the better it tastes as the meat get marinated properly and absorbs the flavours.
Sorak: Sorak is a simple vegetarian curry made especially during the monsoon season in Goa. Curry consists of spicy masala with onions and tomatoes. Sorak is best enjoyed with hot steaming rice or dry fish.
Xec Xec Prawns: It is an exotic dish of prawns, coconut milk, tomatoes, green chillies and onions. The masala is mixed with prawns and added to sautéed onions, garlic and tomatoes. The coconut milk is added gradually. This Goan dish can be accompanied with Sannas, dosas or fugias.
Crab Xacuti: It is a famous dish of Goan Food. I always think to order this but cannot handle spicy so… (sigh!). Preparation of this dish is similar to that of Chicken Xacuti. But the claws of the crab need to be carefully removed and the crabs are then to be boiled for 15 minutes before proceeding. Eggs may be added to the curry to make it thicker and fluffy in consistency.
11. GOAN FESTIVALS
Apart of Christmas, Easter, Diwali, Eid, Ganesh Chatuthi there are various festivals and events in Goa which celebrated with all the pomp and show. A harmonious blend of different cultures, characteristic of Goan population, gives it plenty of festive moments.
Carnival: The most loved festival in Goa ❤ after Chritsmas. If you are 90’s born and have watched JOSH hindi movie, you must know what I am talking about. The song Zinda Hai Hum To was shot during Goan Carnival 🙂
Set to dazzle with colour, costumes, foot-tapping music and a soul-stirring extravaganza. Apart from the non-stop festivity, the streets are beautified with vibrant colors and floats leaving everyone spellbound and in merry! Carnival is celebrated in February. The festival is associated with the legendary king named as Momo who brought in peace, harmony, melody and color to different parts of Goa. All this happens after the 40 days of Lent. (Lent is the six week period leading up to Easter. It’s one of the most important times of year for many Christians around the world, particularly those within the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox traditions, held at a similar level of importance to Advent – the build up to Christmas).
Location: Panjim, Mapusa, Margoa and Vasco Da Gama
Feast of Saint Francis Xavier: St. Francis Xavier was a much loved saint who died on 3rd December and therefore, in Old Goa, every year, people assemble to participate in the feast. The famous and amazing church named as Basilica of Bom Jesus still hold the body of the saint preserved in a casket which is brought to the sight of people only after 10 years, on the day of his feast. Since the saint lives in the memory and hearts of the Goan people, this festival is celebrated with much cheer.
Three Kings Feast: This is a feast which takes place when three boys of Goa play the role of going to see Jesus. They are actually taken by a small boy playing the kettle drum. In order to meet Jesus, the kings ride on the back of a horse and pass through the Hill of Remedios to take part in the High Mass. During this feast, people also worship the Lady of the Mount and make it a point in gaining blessings from and shelter in the lap of the goddess.
Grape Escapade: The biggest grape festival of India and one of the most unique festivals in Goa, The Grape Escapade is a popular gourmet and unique cultural celebration. The is one of the best Goan festivals which brings wine connoisseurs of the world to savour the delectable flavours of grapes from India and abroad. Being one of the famous festival of Goa, it has worldwide charm.
Goa Cashew & Coconut Festival: As Cashew was introduced firstly in Goa, it adds greatly to the economy of the state. This interesting festival in Goa showcases rare arts, cuisines and concoctions. Some interesting activities that can be experienced are cashew stomping, coconut breaking and a taste of exotic fenny cocktails.
Sao Joao Festival: This is a festival that is celebrated with much cheer on 24th of June every year since during this day the catholic community pays honor to St. John the Baptist. The festivities involve a number of folk dances that are referred as ‘Sangodds’. The people of the village, mainly the young people make it a point to wear leaves and fruit laden crowns. People also present fruits to their in-laws as well as friends.
Shigmo: This festival is celebrated during springtime and the celebrations extend to five days. People also call this festival as Shigmotsav and all its festivities come along with the festival of Holi. During this festival, honor is paid to various warriors to return to their homes after defeating the invaders. At this time, people play with colors. People hold umbrellas as well as small sticks and enjoy dancing.
Saptah: This century old festival is a tribute to numerous people who lost their lives in a severe epidemic that hit Vasco. The residents visited Damodar temple to seek almighty blessings and the replacement is accompanied by elaborate rites and rituals which marks the festival of Saptah.
Bonderam Festival: The main jubilation of this festival takes place at the Divar Island. Bonderam refers to flag in Portuguese. Flags have significance in this festival because they actually helped putting an end to fights and wars among the two sections of the Divar village. The festival is celebrated every year on the 4th Saturday of August. There takes the procession of a parade accompanied by loud music.
Serendipity Arts Festival: Before Christmas, Panjim transform into magical place. The multidisciplinary art event like no other!! READ ABOUT THIS HERE.
12. DO NOT TAKE GAMBLING SERIOUSLY
Gambling is an activity that could bring you money or make you lose it. Everything depends on luck. There are only 3 states in India which allows gambling, Goa, Daman and Sikkim. The first casino opened in Goa was on 1999. Today, the state’s 15 casinos – five of them offshore, floating on River Mandovi. My best pick is “Deltin Casino Royale”. I have been there twice and it was fun.
Many says that gambling is addictive and leads to money laundering and corruption, while others say that it could be a great source of money for clearing debts and some side-hustle. But whatever it is, while in Goa, do not really take gambling seriously 🙂
13. RESPECT THE CULTURE!!
Last but not the least, wherever you go always respect the culture!! Do not go overboard with anything. If you don’t know how to perform the religious thing, ask people don’t just perform it. Don’t go nude. Don’t stare people. Don’t drink and drive.
That’s it for today folks!! Happy International Women’s day (though we celebrate it everyday). Have a great weekend and see y’all next week with more Goa post!! ❤ Share your Goa story below in comment section.