Useful Information about Goa for Tourist

Here is some useful information about Goa (INDIA) for visiting tourist.

Area/Activities/Cuisine/Travelling/Markets/Beaches/Water Fall/ Etc Information

Goa at a Glance
Area: 3,702sq.kms
Population: 13, 50,000 approximately
Capital: Panaji
Altitude: Sea level to 1,022 meters
Climate: Summer 24`C-33`C; winter 21`C-32`C
Rainfall: Average rainfall of 250cms annually from June-September
Clothing: Tropical clothing throughout the year Light woollen in December, January
Official language: Konkani
Other Languages: Konkani, Marathi, Hindi, English, Portuguese
Major cities: Panaji, Santa Cruz, Mapusa, Margao, Ponda and Vasco da Gama.
Religion: Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.

Travelling in Goa

Like the rest of India and the UK, vehicles travel on the left side of the road in Goa. An International Drivers License is required. You can either hire yourself some transport or use the public transport, there are a good selection of choices available that you would not normally find in the UK.

Driving License:
The best way to get around Goa is to hire a motorcycle or jeep, though be sure to carry the necessary paperwork (licence, registration & insurance) because checks on foreigners are a lucrative source of baksheesh! (Bribe) for the police. Carry enough local currency at all times to pay for local services.

Self Drive Cars and Jeeps availability in Goa:
There are a number of companies that operate self-drive car rentals. Although it is expensive it is worth trying. Several companies have counters at the airport. It is usually cheaper to rent a car and driver for a specific trip.

Local bus transport in Goa:
These are very cheep and are a good way to get to other towns like Mapusa or Vagator but will not take you off the beaten track.

Motorcycle Taxi Hire in Goa:
These are a Goan specialty, simply pay the driver and he’ll take you where you want to go, probably the cheapest form of public transport after local buses. Goa is the only state in India where motorcycles are a licensed form of taxi. If you are travelling on your own, this mode of transport is much cheaper. Licensed motorcycles have a yellow painted front mudguard and are found in large numbers throughout the area.

Auto Rickshaw in Goa:
The usual Indian auto rickshaws are also available, cheaper than taxis more than motorbike taxis.

Taxi in Goa:
The most expensive option but the best for getting further a field like the airport or if you want to visit distant towns and villages.

Always negotiate the price for Taxi’s and Auto Rickshaws before you get in /on!

It is possible to hire bicycles usually near the beaches, and often without gears though more modern bicycles are becoming more readily available, beware of the traffic the style of driving and road conditions of Goa are very different from the UK!

Motorbikes and Scooters:
A great way to get around is to hire scooters or Motorbikes. They may require a small deposit, but never leave your passport; you can leave a photocopy if you are asked. Bikes are available easily; just ask your local representative always refrain from asking the locals who run road-side stalls or at flea markets. If you do hire one fill the tank to the fullest, as petrol pumps are far away from each other! Be aware that no one seems to wear helmets and the traffic can be busy especially in peek season, it’s not a good place to learn how to ride a scooter or motorbike. If you are going to go into Mapusa or Panaji find a helmet, the police will want a bribe (baksheesh) if you don’t have one or an international license.

Map Showing Important Beaches of Goa

Goa Beaches Map

Goan Cuisine

If you are visiting Goa for the first time, expect to be amazed with the taste some exotic and spicy dishes. Goan cuisine is a mixture of cultural influence. Hindu, Latin, Muslim and Portuguese influence – all have had an impact on Goan cuisine.

Fish, rice and Feni (90% proof local liquor) is usually combined with a Goan meal. Seafood is often the favourite choice for a meal Prawns, mussels, oysters, lobster and ladyfish are amongst the variety on offer. Pork is also widely used within Goan non vegetarian dishes.

Feni is Indian liquor (90%proof) made from either coconut or the juice of the cashew apple.

Goan’s prefer hot, spicy and pungent meals therefore various ingredients such as kokum, red chillies, and coconut milk, tamarind and palm vinegar are used to give that tantalising taste. A variety of chutneys are often offered to accompany a mean that add that extra bit of taste to the food.

Goa Art & Craft

There are many traditional arts and crafts of Goa; we have provided you with some information on just a few of the examples available to tourists. The market places are filled with attractive gifts to purchase, and if you are willing to barter you will find yourself a bargain!

Pottery and Terracotta
These are the traditional crafts of Goa, decorative household and tourist items and also statues of saints and goddesses. Goan’s often draw inspiration from religious or historical themes; pottery is made throughout Goa though Borda and Bicholim districts are two of the famous centres of earthenware.

Crochet and Embroidery
Crochet and embroidery in Goa is inherent it is passed from one generation to another. Though the craft has been in India since ancient times it also came to Goa with the arrival of nuns and missionaries in the fifteenth century which started the tradition of crochet and embroidery in Goa which has improved in quality and design over time. The items often made are small personal items, table linen, women and children’s clothing, soft furnishing covers and bed linens and covers.

Bamboo Craft
Bamboo craft was initially used to make items for fishermen and farmers to store food grains and sell fish. These bamboo products are still used in villages today, baskets, floor covers or to dry food grains. Tourism and changes in lifestyle has not influenced this traditional craft in the form of decorative utility items. Commonly sold items include fans, flower backs, pots and letter racks.

Brass Metal Work
Brass items such as ashtrays, lamps, trinkets, general wares can be found in the markets in Anjuna Arpora Mapusa and are very famous with tourists especially.

Fibre Craft
Items can be found in Goa made of banana or sisal fibre they often include attractive colourful items such as purses, wallets, coasters and mats and wall hangings.

Events in Goa

Goa Carnival
During Mid February Panaji the Capital of Goa is bustling with colour activity. A three day and night Goa carnival, that has become a major tourist attraction.
The ‘Carnival’ is exclusive and unique to Goa, and was introduced by the Portuguese who ruled over Goa for over five hundred years. For three days and nights the streets come alive with colour. Held in mid February the weeklong event is a time for lively processions, floats, the strumming of guitars, graceful dances and of non-stop festivity. Huge parades of dancers and music are organised all night on the streets, and grand balls held in the evenings. The carnival concludes with the famous red-and-black dance held by the Club National in Panaji on the final day.

Sea Food Festival
The five day festival celebrates the rich sea food of Goa and is planned to give special focus to Goan’s’ seafood recipes Over a period of five days, reputed caterers, hotels and chefs open stalls and offer sea food. The women of Goa attend this festival to offer everyone a rich experience of locally cooked Goan cuisine, the festival is a fabulous event and sure to satisfy the most discerning gourmet. Firework displays conclude the festival celebrations.

Kesarbai Kerkar Music Festival
Held during November in Panaji this annual festival that’s now been held for over 20 years is the venue to visit for music and dance lovers.

The International Film Festival of India
The IFFI held in late November and staged in the west end completely dominates Panaji for a fortnight. Fountains and two thousand ornamental street lamps imported from Belgium are proudly switched on, along with floodlights illuminating the wooded jetty behind the festival’s main venue, the Kala Academy, where delegates and guests alight from launches to ablaze of flashguns. Superstars from Bollywood can be spotted posing along Panaji’s waterfront: Amir Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Ashwariya Rai and the “Big B” himself, Amitaba Bachchan, have all loyally turned up for the event, much to the obvious delight of the local politicians hosting it.

Christmas and New Year Celebrations
Christmas and New Year in Goa is an exciting place to be full of energy and drenched in the colours of festivities with numerous parties and cultural shows this is the place to be at this time of year as no other part of India celebrates with such enthusiasm. The best locations to enjoy the Christmas celebrations are within the Churches of Goa, though for the New Year head to the beaches for the ultimate New Year extravaganza

Ingo’s – Saturday Night Market
This market/entertainment place is a place to go to, good quality items, a wide range of food stands though can be crowded. It can be found on the way to Arpora from Anjuna.

Mackie’s Saturday Night Bazaar
This Goan run night market has expanded recently, it’s worth a trip. It is located north of the river at Baga; the market appears to be split into sections with the Indian stall holders concentrated in the first section, in the middle is live music and a tourist trap for local beers and an evening out. And after sipping away with a beer and listening to the live music you will find the westerners stalls and the food stalls to end a pleasant evening out.

Evenings in Goa

Night Life in GoaDiscotheques and Nightclubs of Goa

Laws over alcohol are liberal and you can usually buy a drink almost anywhere, however Goa is strictly against drink driving, nudity and drugs and if caught by the police the consequences are far more severe than in the United Kingdom.

Often many of the local houses sell chilled beers including Kingfisher beers, and reasonable Goan delicacies and sea food. Often many of the restaurants have bars or nightclubs attached to them so you do not usually need to plan your evening. The atmosphere of Goa’s nightlife is relaxed its not all wine and dine, there are many other ways you can spend your evenings.

Night Cruises
For a unique experience and party why not try the Goa night cruises. Several options are available on Mondovi River. Food and drink are inclusive of the ticket price along with dancing and music; you even have the option to hire a luxury private yacht trip.

Casual Evenings by the Shore

After a long tiring day exploring Goa you may be looking for a laid back evening, a place to relax and just enjoy the atmosphere if so then why not spend an evening at one of the many beach side shacks offering good seafood and chilled beers  Often the  shack owners organize bonfires and beach side barbecues in the evenings.

Activities in Goa

Water Sports Activities :

Parasailing  at Beach Areas:
Though this water sport is available at a variety of beaches including Arrossim-Cansaulim & Utorda stretch, Mobor beach and Miramar. Parasailing on Siquerim-Candolim-Calangute is special due to the views of Fort Aguada and the River Princess.

Jet-skiing on Beaches:
Beaches where you can pursue this water sports are Colva, Candolim, Calenture, Miramar, Arossim, Utorda, Benaulim, Mobor and Baga. Though you will need to remain in the sight of the operator.

Water Skiing on Beaches of Goa:
You can water ski at Candolim, Calangute, Arossim, Utorda and Mobor and Baga.

Windsurfing at Beaches of Goa:
An inexpensive water sport which requires patience, good guidance and health. Bogmalo, Miramar, Calangute, Arossim, Utorda, Benaulim, Vagator, and Baga are the beaches where you can windsurf but if you are learning then head for Dona Paula bay, windsurfing courses are also there if you wish to learn this sport.

Speedboat Rides in Goa:
All major beaches like Calangute, Candolim, Arossim, Utorda, Colva or Mobor have speed boat operators.

Catamaran Sailing in Goa
Also called Hobe cats, catamaran sailing is a pretty relaxed activity but also a fun activity. Catamaran sailing is available on Candolim, Calangute, Dona Paula, Arossim, Utorda, Colva, Benaulim and Mobor, a trained captain will sail the catamaran though you will be expected to understand emergency signals and procedures of catamaran before heading onto the water.

Scuba-diving and Snorkelling

Exciting activities that the whole family can enjoy, even though Goa has no great coral reef a good selection of hard and soft corals can be found along with an abundance of marine life. Snorkelling is ideal for families with good swimming abilities and for the more adventurous scuba-diving with trained divers; visibility will vary from 2-50 meters depending on the sea and weather conditions.

Hiking and Trekking
Trekking and hiking are not just these two activities but include a range of activities such as rock climbing, ramberling, and river crossing. Another exhilarating activity is the Tyrolean traverse. You are suspended over a river, valley or a ravine with a rope and you back crawl on the rope with the use of safety equipment. The lush green Sahyadris in Goa, makes trekking a delight. As you ascend on your journey, the view is breath taking. Enjoy nature at its fullest by visiting Val poi, Mollem and Sanguem.
October to December is the best time for this sport though it can be enjoyed throughout the year. Trekking trips to the Dudhsagar waterfalls, rock-climbing and rappelling at Kalen Rock in Sanguem are essential.

Microlite Flying
Why not enjoy microlite flying which is only available at Calangute using a motorised machine with a forty feet wing span, the operators are able to seat 2 -3 passengers at any one time, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy a birds eye view over Goa.

Go-Carting in Goa
Goa has one of the best carting tracks in the country the 500m long tracks are located near Arpora.

Bird Watching
Goa is a bird watcher’s paradise an early morning walk to one of the lake sides will reveal much of the secret habitats of birds to you. Alternatively also you can visit Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary on Chorao Island.

Dolphin and Crocodile Trips
Dolphin and crocodile spotting trips are famous in Goa. Some of the major beaches which have operators providing this activity are in Candolim, Calangute and Palolim.

Goa Stall Holders & Essentials

Roadside and Beach Stalls
Owners of these stalls often attempt to sell you far more than you require! They drive a hard bargain and sometimes hound potential customers in the hope of a sell. They often sell a range of textiles and t-shirts and you bargain hard you can get things for a good price but you may find the experience a bit draining.

Anjuna Beach
Situated eight kilometres west of Mapusa, Anjuna beach is bordered by red cliffs against the white sands, the cocoanut plantations present a contrast of colour. This is a popular beach while the people may have varied interests they all have one thing in common the moon light trance parties of Anjuna beach The majority of Hotels lie in the north of Anjuna beach, though towards the middle you will find the flea market and in the south Little Anjuna Beach. Anjuna provides a laid back holiday feeling with a good selection of restaurants.

Wednesday Flea market
A major tourist attraction the Flea market in Apora is held every Wednesday. The popularity of the market among the locals and tourists can be judged by traffic jams here. The Flea market will offer you with a range of products so unique that it will be a memory of a lifetime, maybe a new book or even an Elephant ride! Tibetan, Kashmiri and Gujarati trinkets and handicrafts, to cd’s there is no end to the variety here. Flea market is a heaven for hardcore shoppers and good hagglers. The market begins around noon and goes on till sunset.

Swimming and Snorkelling
Swimming is safe at southern end of the beach where a rocky terrain keeps the sea calm and undertow to a minimum otherwise beware the undertow can be very strong and cause problems to even the strongest of swimmers. On calm days one can enjoy snorkelling at the southern end of the beach.

Baga Beach
Ten kilometres west of Mapusa, Baga beach is an extension of Calangute beach a rocky wooded headland marks Baga beach. The scenery here is unspoiled. The land and sea meet here in a picture perfect manner on the brown sands. Baga beach is free from any hustle bustle and water sports are limited.

The Medicinal Springs (springs at Mottant)
For the health conscious a trip to Medicinal Springs is a must. To get there take the narrow road past the Bom Via gem Convent along the cashew covered foothills. This is an ideal spot for picnics and bathing as water is considered to medicinal here.

The Sea Cure
Baga is a popular destination with the local Goan’s for the sea cure of arthritis and joint pains. Every year around mid-May, Goan’s camp on the shores of Baga beach. They sit on the edge of the sea with their backs to the sea during the high tide and let the waves splash them which circulate the blood in the body. The cure has been practiced in Goa for hundreds of years.

With its uncrowded beaches Baga has become a place for foreign tourist to pursue their own hobbies. Baga also has one of the best ranges of restaurants. Take a candle lit dinner on the beach or an espresso on the terrace cafes. Or go for a full fledged Goan meal in one of the beach side shacks.

Calangute Beach
Nine miles from the Goan Capital Panaji, the beach is spread four miles along the Arabian Sea. On the north is hamlet of Baga and to the south is Candolim village.

Beach, Swimming and Food
Tan yourself on beach or go swimming. Calangute is a reasonably safe place to swim though one should keep at least three hundred meters away from the mouth of the river. Children can be seen here making castles out of sand. Take a fifteen minute walk from the main beach front area and you will come in a hawker free zone. Sights of rows of wooden boats and teams of village fishermen hauling nets in a high tide can be seen here… Sea food is available in abundance. There are options for vegetarians also.

Nightlife of Calangute is in contrast to that of Anjuna. The bars close around ten pm, there is hardly any night life here.

Water sports
Calangute is one of the few beaches where water sports are available. There are more than a dozen operators along the beach, including Para sailing, surfing, skiing or banana and bump rides. There are some boat operators offering dolphin and crocodile spotting trips, island trips and fishing expeditions.

A bazaar, Tibetan market and Kashmiri merchants is held here every Saturday and offers good bargains with goods ranging from a range of foods to embroidery and carpets.

Candolim Beach
Fifteen kilometres from Panaji, the Goan capital, is Candolim beach in northern Goa, it is one of the longest beaches in Goa. The beach in itself is very calm and peaceful and the dunes are popular with tourists.

Shopping and Restaurants
The main road is packed with shops and restaurants, but the beach front is rather free of any commercial activity apart from some water activities. The area has a number of inns at reasonable prices with good facilities.

Swimming and Water Sports
Candolim offers you a variety of water activities. Candolim is not safe for swimming as there can be strong undertows at high and low tides.

Crocodile, Dolphin and Fishing Trips
The village of Candolim is a fishing village. Many boat operators in Goa take you to dolphin and crocodile spotting trips, island trips and fishing expeditions

Goa Waterfall – Top 100 falls of the World

Dudhsagar(milk sugar) waterfalls Goa
Sixty kilometres from Goa, on the Goa Karnataka border is the Dudhsagar waterfalls. Falling from a height of over two thousand feet, Dudhsagar falls are among the 100 highest waterfalls in the world and one of highest falls in the India. Situated in the tropical forests, plunging down the Western Ghats into a crescent shaped valley, the falls present a breathtaking view from the bottom and an even better one from the top. Though journey to the top takes at least a couple of hours passing through the bushes, boulders and water but its worth that.

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