Sunday, October 23, 2016

Planning your Goa trip

Just returned after a wonderful and another memorable experience in Goa. It was a short vacation but nevertheless fell in love with Goa all over again. Initially, I thought of sharing my planned itinerary just like my other blog posts but then, Goa is different. The splendid aura and tranquility simply makes you lose track of time. We’ve spent hours every time, sitting at a beach, living the music and ambience. It’s altogether a different world.

Chapora Fort, Chapora, Goa

In this post, I would be sharing information based on my personal experiences that you can use to plan your Goa trip. Reading this would give you some useful pointers that should help in planning your vacation better.

When to go

November to January is the tourist season. During this time, the place is flocked by foreigners and locals alike. A good number of beach cafes and shacks are setup, and Goa is all lively and busy during this time of the year.
With lush greenery and romantic weather, monsoon is also a good time to visit Goa. During June-October, it’s less crowded and hotel bookings are available at off-season rates.
During February to June, the climate in Goa is hot and not very favorable.

Where to stay

With many amazing beaches and plethora of options, it becomes a little difficult to decide that perfect location for your stay. However, you can always plan based on your preferences and/or occasion.

North Goa is where all the party scene happens with a number of vibrant pubs and cafes. South Goa is relatively calm with more peaceful and beautiful beaches.

For a one week vacation, I would spend 3 days in South Goa and 4 days in North Goa. If the duration is smaller, I would choose the location based on whether I am more into partying (North Goa) or I would want some explicit peaceful time with the entire beach just for myself (South Goa).

South Goa boasts of some grand multi star hotels and resorts with private beaches. The Leela Goa is a wonderful 5-star resort that doesn’t go very heavy on your pocket also. Palolem and Agoda are the two best beaches in South Goa, with a plenty of budget lodging options available.

North Goa again has a couple of good locations. Lately, Baga has become a centre hub with many glitzy shops and pubs. Baga beach hosts some of the nicest beach shacks and cafes. Staying in Baga is like living just next to all the party places. Personally, I prefer Anjuna and Ozran/Vagator, the lesser crowded neighbors of Baga. Here, you can be away from all the hustle and at the same time, not too far from all the action.

For my recent trip, I was looking for a sea facing accommodation near Anjuna or Vagator. Apparently, I didn't find much options and narrowed down my search to the following two - Alcove Resort and Casa Vagator. The resorts are next to each other facing the Ozran beach. I stayed in Alcove Resort which is at an amazing location with a full view of the sea right from your room. Also, the food, ambience and staff are a complete plus. I would recommend this resort; it's totally worth every penny.
View from room at Alcove Resort, Ozran beach

On another trip, I stayed at Orritel Village Square near Vagator. It's a very good budget option that you can consider.

Candolim and Arambol too provides good options with the latter mostly inhabited by foreign crowd.

Transport

With no Uber and Ola around, transport in Goa is a little expensive. Although taxis are easily available and the charges are mostly fixed (bargaining doesn’t help much), the fares are much higher compared to other places.

If you are going from South Goa to North Goa or vice versa, you end up shelling out good number of bucks. Same is true for commute from airport. At airport, the prepaid taxi counter is on the right just after you exit. There are fixed rates for drop to different locations, which comes out to be approximately Rs 27 per km for a non-AC cab, and a little higher for an AC cab. Also, you pay an extra 35% as night charges when traveling between 11pm and 5am. I remember the tariff was Rs 1379, for a drop to Vagator which is 52km from airport.
Prepaid Taxi Counter at Goa Airport
For sightseeing in Goa, renting a two-wheeler or a car is the best option that goes easy on your pocket as well. Vehicles are easily available for rent with vendors available in almost every other street. The price for renting a scooter (Activa) for a day is around Rs 300 which generally goes up during the peak season.


Where to party

Tito’s lane in Baga is very popular among the party goers and is alive all night. It has some nice pubs and bars that you can surely give it a try. Also, there are some nice beach shacks that have earned a good name and audience due to their carefree and friendly atmosphere and nice mouthwatering food. St. Anthony’s at Baga, Britto’s at Baga, CafĂ© Liliput in Anjuna and Curlies in Anjuna are some nice places where time just flies like anything.
@ St. Anthony's, Baga beach

Thalasa near Ozran beach and Club Cubana too gets some crazy parties organized that you can surely give it a try.

Beaches

Goa is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in India. Beaches cover almost 83% of the total coastline area of Goa. At places, the golden sand stretches long distances with sea water flowing towards the shore offering pleasant picturesque views. Palolem beach in south and Arambol beach in north Goa away from the hurly-burly crowded places are the two most beautiful beaches in Goa. Arambol beach is at a 20-25-minute drive from Anjuna area and is a must visit during your Goa vacation.
Vagator beach. Pic taken from Chapora fort
I plan to write another post about the Goa beaches.


Other attractions and things to do


Forts


If you are staying in north Goa, then you should not give a miss to visit Aguada Fort and Chapora Fort (also populary known as Dil Chahta Hai fort, from the movie).
Fort Aguada is at around 4.5kms from Candolim beach and is a small drive away. Chapora Fort near Vagator beach is around 5kms from Anjuna and resides on a cliff overlooking the Arabian sea. It requires a small trek 5-10 minutes to reach to the fortified walls. There are no monuments left in the fort area but the views are simply breath taking.
@Chapora Fort, Goa

Dudhsagar waterfalls


Dudhsagar waterfalls is a one day trip from Goa. Located at around 90kms from north goa, it takes around 2:30 – 3 hours to reach the waterfall. Dudhsagar is one of the highest waterfalls in india with gallons of water roaring down with utmost commanding force. Visit this place to experience the power of nature. Dudhsagar is covered in several trekking expeditions and is one of the major attractions of Goa.

Goa casinos


There are several casino cruises on Mandovi river near Panjim at a 45-minute drive from Anjuna. Generally the cruise has 3-4 decks with 1 or 2 decks housing casinos. If you don’t want to get into gambling still it’s a good experience with live music, dance performances and a good buffet of food and drinks.

The entry ticket includes buffet and you get some complimentary casino chips that you can try your luck with. The buffet and performances are open till midnight while the casinos remain open whole night. The entry pass is relatively cheaper on weekdays.
One downside is that the return cab fares from casino to wherever you are staying would be quite high. So, if you don’t have your own vehicle, consider planning a pickup in advance

Recommendations - Deltin Jaqk is a new cruise with a good line up of dance and music performances, good food and a splendid ambience.

Water sports

Water sports are available at all major beaches viz Anjuna, Baga and Candolim. The activities are generally clubbed into a package that costs around Rs 1200 per person and includes Parasailing, water scooter ride or Jet-ski, banana ride, bumper ride and a boat ride. No prior reservation is required and can be booked directly at the beach.

Parasailing at Candolim beach


Shopping

You can find vendors and shops near almost every beach in Goa. There are many shops near Baga where you can purchase things. Anjuna market is also a good place to buy stuff. Bargain well here.

Liquor check

Booze is cheap in Goa because of low duty. For people who want to carry it back outside Goa, there is a permissible limit of 2 bottles per person. For this, there is a pass that the shopkeeper gives that costs you another 10-20 bucks. However, on multiple occasion, I’ve seen people getting harassed by police at state border checks. The fine you are asked to pay defeats the entire purpose of buying cheap liquor in the first place. Personally, I would recommend avoid getting into such a situation.

Budget

Your expenditure would obviously depend on your preferences. But a good 4-5 days trip would generally cost you between 10-15k excluding transportation to/from Goa.


Please do comment if some more things can be added, or if you have some interesting information from your travel to Goa.


Happy traveling!

3 comments:

  1. Thanks Manish for sharing your experience.I have never been to Goa, hopefully will be planning soon. This article is very informative and well written.

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  2. If you have firm ideas of what you want and where you want to go, there is a good chance everything can be arranged, including extras, in less than a half hour. Travel BiH

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