This year, I have been to many beach places like Seychelles, Mauritius, etc. which have been amazing. But a trip to Goa with your best friends is a must. Especially when there are so many fun things to do in Goa like scuba diving, partying, etc. in this tiny state.
So, I decided that we would have a chilled and relaxed holiday in this beach state. While the original plan was just for 3 days, I ended up staying for 10 days in this amazing place. And trust me, they were one of my most cherished days in India.
So, in this guide, I will be giving you essential information on how to plan a trip to Goa including where to stay, how to travel, what to eat, and so on.
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A small state in the Konkan region which shares its boundary with the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, Goa is popularly known as the party place of India. Every year, millions of people flock to this tiny state for a relaxing weekend or to party all night long.
Known for its beaches and fishing villages, Goa is an Indian paradise. But that’s not all, due to the cultural influence of Portuguese who arrived here in the early 16th century, you can find a lot of Portuguese-styled buildings and streets here. With Panaji as its capital, Goa is often segregated into two regions known as South Goa and North Goa.
How to Reach Goa
Now, the first question that might come to your mind is how to reach goa? Well, that’s a valid concern but the great thing about this city is that it is so easily accessible. So, you have a lot of transportation options connecting Goa to other major cities in India like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and so on.
So, here are a few ways to consider as a solution to your how to reach Goa query.
Goa is connected to a lot of major cities via railways like Delhi, Mumbai, Trivandrum, etc. So, you can always book a train for yourself if you have the time and patience. A train journey will be long but will be cost-effective as well.
When you are booking a train to Goa, you will have two railway station options: Vasco Da Gama and Madgaon. Choose the railway station according to your plan. If you are planning to spend time in North Goa, then choose Vasco Da Gama. But if you want to explore South Goa, then Madgaon is the best choice for you.
However, remember that you might not have a lot of long-distance trains for Goa. So, you might not be able to choose the convenient railway station but do try if you can.
There is one International Airport in Goa, Dabolim Airport which is close to Vasco Da Gama and around 30 km from Panjim. The airport has both domestic and international flights going and coming to this airport so one can easily save some time by booking a flight.
You will find several flights connecting Goa to cities like Hyderabad, Delhi, Bengaluru, etc. And there are a few occasional flights as well connecting Goa to Dubai, Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Manchester, London, etc.
However, a flight can be an expensive option to reach Goa so if you are on a budget, I would advise you to avoid it.
For people who stay in South India including cities like Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kochi, etc., buses are a great mode of transportation as well. You have several private bus services to Goa which will take about 10 – 18 hours from nearby major cities.
Also, you have the option to choose from Sleeper, Non-Sleeper, A.C, and Non-A.C buses so you can choose a bus according to your budget.
Finally, you can also go on a road trip to Goa and have the ultimate fun with your friends. The Mumbai-Goa highway is quite smooth and amazing and will give you an amazing road trip feel.
A road trip from Mumbai will take around 11 hours while a road trip from Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Chennai will take 15, 10, 16 hours respectively.
How to Travel in Goa
Once you have reached Goa, the next thing that you have to figure out is how to travel in Goa. This is extremely important because Goa is huge and going from one point to another often takes 45-60 minutes. So, you would need to consider your budget and constraint while choosing the best mode of transport in Goa.
Here are a few ways that you can travel in Goa to explore this beautiful city.
One of the best things about Goa is that it has an amazing state bus network. And while you would not get a direct bus from South Goa to North Goa, it is still possible to explore the entire city using buses.
One thing to remember is that Madgaon and Panjim are two major bus stations in Goa. You will get buses to most of the places from here. Here is a little-detailed route by bus if you want to reach these places:
- Dabolim Airport – If you want to reach the Dabolim Airport then you can take a shuttle from Panjim to Vasco Da Gama or the airport. From Vasco Da Gama, you have a couple of local buses going to the Airport in every 10-15 minutes. And the whole thing would cost you barely 50 – 80 INR.
- Madgaon Railway Station – From Madgaon Railway Station, you get a local bus to the Madgaon Bus Stand. It usually takes 15-20 minutes to reach the bus stand and costs around 20 INR. From the Madgaon Bus Stand, you get buses to South Goa like Colva, Benaulim, etc. You also get a bus/shuttle to Panjim from here. You will also get shuttles from Panjim to Madgaon which will take barely 45 minutes to reach and will cost you about 80 INR.
- Baga Beach – Once you reach Panjim, you can take a bus to reach North Goa like Baga, Candolim, etc. One thing to remember is that these buses usually take time but will cost you just 20-50 INR.
- Panjim – You will get a bus to Panjim from most of the places since it is a major point in Goa. Although, in some cases, you might need to change the bus at one point.
- Arambol – If you want to reach Arambol, then you will first need to take a bus to Morjim from Panjim. From the Morjim bus stand, you will need to take another bus to Arambol. In total, it would take you around 2 hours to reach Arambol from Panjim in a bus.
Shuttle Buses are quick and don’t stop at all the bus stops. So, if you are heading to the airport or the railway station then shuttle buses are the best way to travel.
Rented Self-Drive Cars/Bikes
One of the best things to do in Goa for an easy and convenient trip is to rent a car/two-wheeler. You have a lot of rental shops throughout Goa which will give you a car/two-wheeler on rent.
A self-driven car will generally cost you around 1500 INR for a 7-seater in the off-season and weekdays. However, if you visit this city for a long weekend or the peak season then expect to pay around 2500 – 3000 INR for a 7-seater car.
As for the scooty, you can get it for 300-400 INR for a day throughout the year. One thing to remember is that make sure you ask for all the essential papers when renting the car/scooty. Because, a lot of times, they might rent you a car which doesn’t have required papers for driving around entire Goa.
Cabs and Taxis
Lastly, if budget is not a constraint then you always have cabs and taxis for exploring Goa. However, this is definitely the costliest way to explore Goa. A trip from the Dabolim Airport to Panjim will easily cost you about 1000 – 1500 INR so choose the cabs/taxis sparingly.
Best Time to Visit Goa
Technically, there is no single best time to visit Goa as it is a year-round destination. But yes, different seasons offer different activities and things to do in Goa. Here is what you can expect in each season here.
If you don’t want to experience heatstroke and humidity then summer season, i.e., April to June is the worst time to visit Goa. However, if you are looking for some peace and quiet at an affordable price then summer is the best time to visit Goa.
During the summer season, very few people travel to Goa so beaches are clean and mostly empty. And you can always start your day in the evening for an amazing time here.
Personally, I think the best time to visit Goa is during the monsoon season, i.e., the months of July – September. This is because the entire place is covered in greenery during this time which makes Goa even more wonderful to explore. Also, the waterfalls have more water during this time so it becomes fun to play in them.
So, if you don’t mind occasional rainfall then you can definitely plan a trip to Goa in September.
In terms of weather, the best time to visit Goa is the winter season, i.e., the months of October to March. This is also the peak season in Goa. So, you would see a large crowd at this time, especially around December.
But if you plan your trip away from the holidays then you can definitely have an amazing time here. Also, from November, most of the clubs and water activities are restarted in Goa. So, this is definitely the best time for party people and water adventure enthusiasts.
One thing to remember is that the prices are also high at this time so plan your trip carefully.
ATM and Network Availability
In terms of ATM, you won’t face any issues as there are a lot throughout the state. However, it is always a good idea to keep some cash with you before leaving home. This is because, during some long weekends, there might not be cash in the ATMs or you might end up waiting in a huge queue outside the ATM. So, always keep some cash with you and use your credit/debit card wherever possible.
In terms of Network availability, most of the networks work well. However, in some locations, you might not get any network on your Airtel number. Vodafone and CellOne networks work best in Goa but they can be intermittent in some places as well.
Where to Stay in Goa
One of the trickiest things to figure out while planning a Goa trip is where to stay in Goa. Should you stay in North Goa, South Goa, or Panjim? And should you go to a hostel or a luxurious villa?
Well, the answer to your where to stay in Goa depends greatly upon your budget, duration of trip, and itinerary. If you are planning to spend a couple of days exploring South Goa and North Goa, then you need separate accommodation. And if you aren’t planning to explore too much then Panjim is a good idea as it is closer to most beaches and clubs.
You can check out some amazing places to stay in Goa on Booking.com
If you are on a budget then the best thing to do is look for an affordable hostel in your desired area. And thankfully, there are a lot of hostels in Goa like Backpacker Panda, Shail Arambol, etc. where you will get a bed for 100 – 500 INR per night.
If you are solo traveling, hostels are your best choice as you save a lot of bucks. And you end up making a lot of new friends here too.
Hotels and Guesthouses
In case, you don’t find a hostel for your dates then the next best thing would be to book a guesthouse/hotel. There are several hotels which have deals and offers going on so it doesn’t come up to be that expensive. In fact, I remember getting a deal some 2-3 years back in which we got a room for 2200 for 5 nights.
So, you can search for such hotels and guesthouses when planning a trip to Goa. If you are planning to stay in Arambol, then the Noname Guesthouse is definitely an amazing place to stay at.
In case you are with a big group, then getting a place at Airbnb would be a smarter option. This is because all of you will be able to enjoy in the same house and you will have more freedom than a hotel or hostel.
Usually, depending on your requirements and the amenities provided, you will get a place for anywhere between 1500 – 5000 INR per night for the entire place. Also, avoid getting a place with a pool because you aren’t going to spend any time in it.
Trust me, you will spending the majority of your time relaxing at the beach or partying at the pubs only.
Resorts and Villas
Finally, if you aren’t held back by budget and feel that Goa trip happens only once (So not true in our case) then you can splurge a little on the resorts/villas here. Usually, these villas will start around 4000 – 5000 INR per night. But they will be spacious enough to fit 7-10 people at a time.
What to Eat in Goa
In terms of food, Goa is really famous for its seafood. So, for all the non-vegetarians out there, seafood dishes are a must try here. You have to try a Vindaloo dish here which is a popular Goan recipe and is quite spicy. There are all kinds of restaurants here so you will approximately spend 200 – 500 INR per meal.
Also, make sure that you head to Cafe Bhonsle in Panjim to enjoy their famous Bun. The fluffy fried Bun is sweet and tastes delicious with chickpea curry and will barely cost 40-50 INR.
Stick to small food shacks and do read the menu before you start ordering. Also, make sure that you do try the Fish Curry meal here for 100 – 150 INR. The meal is really filling and is the best way to taste the Goan cuisine.
While Goa has become quite commercialized and crowded now, it is still an iconic trip that you have to do. And instead of spending all your time on beaches and partying, try to learn about the culture. Dive deep into the Goan history and you will be awarded some beautiful memories.
I hope that you find our guide helpful and let us know in the comments if you like it.
Also Read: 16 Magnificent Beaches to Visit in Goa