Goa is the party capital of India. It is home to some stunning beaches, beautiful whitewashed Portuguese Churches, happening Night Clubs, bars & casinos. There are enough adventurous activities to give you an adrenaline rush. Goa is the only place in India where you’ll experience this different kind of freedom and your mind will switch to the ‘Chill’ mode by default. Every twenty something Indian after visiting Goa for the first time gets a feeling that he or she belongs in Goa.
What is the Best Time to Visit Goa ?
November to February : This is the best time to visit Goa. Temperature ranges between 20*C – 25*C. Weather is pleasant & cool. Specifically, December & January are the best months to visit which also experience the peak traffic.
March to May: The weather is hot & humid with temperature ranging between 25*C-35*C. Not many tourists visit Goa during this time.
June to October: Mid-June to September is the monsoon season in Goa. This is another off season but some tourists do visit this time to explore the Goan countryside. Also, since its raining, most water-sports are unavailable during this time. October receives very less rain and experiences a good tourist traffic.
How to Reach Goa?
Goa is well connected via road, rail & air to the other parts of India. You can also reach Mumbai and then drive to Goa for a adventurous road trip or may experience the luxury cruise to Goa that has recently started from Mumbai. Learn how to book cheap flight tickets in this blog post- Top 25 Money Saving Travel Tips .
Places in Goa:
Goa has three main regions- North Goa, South Goa and Central or Old Goa. Each region has something different to offer:
1. North Goa:
This is where you find the crowd. North Goa has crowded beaches, the major night clubs, Casinos & the famous forts. All water sports activities are available here and Hotels, Bars & Restaurants are around everywhere.
Things to do in North Goa:
1. Chill out on the Beaches:
Get into the sea, have some fun- may bring a football/ vooleyball (available near baga and calangut beach) or just lay down and chill.
A number of famous beaches outline the coast of North Goa- Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator, Arambol, Morjim, Ashwem. Each of these beaches is different in some way or the other, in order to pick the beach that’s best suited for you, refer to this Goa Beach Guide.
2. Get your heart pump up in Water Sports
A typical water sports package (around Rs. 1500/- per person) in Goa includes four major sports- Banana Ride, Bumper ride, Jet Ski and Para-Sailing. This package is available very easily on all popular beaches. There are other activities also like- Scuba Diving, Kayaking, windsurfing, fly-boarding etc that are offered by only few operators and available only at a few places, nevertheless, you can easily find these tour operators in Goa, there are enough advertisements.
Quick Tip: You must try Banana ride and Para Sailing and skip Scuba Diving in Goa for a better location where water has more visibility.
3. Loosen up on a Beach Shack
Music , beer and the beach is as amazing as it sounds. Loosen up your senses and head to the dance floor for unlimited fun. Find a beach shack which has a dance floor.
4. Visit the Historical Goan Forts:
There are many forts in North Goa and South Goa. Some are better than others. Its best to visit the forts in the evening when the mercury sets low and the sunsets at these forts are panoramic and peaceful. The popular North Goan forts include:
- Aguada Fort: Visit one of the most prized and crucial forts of the Portuguese, the fort Aguada located at Sinquerim Beach . Relax and admire the beautiful view of the sea from the fort.
- Chapora Fort: This fort was featured in the iconic Bollywood movie ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and people try to recreate the famous scene from the movie, as we also did. It offers beautiful view of the Vagator beach and is a great location to click pictures.
- Reis Magos Fort: Another Portuguese fort that offers beautiful scenic views of the city & the mandovi river merging the sea.
5. Party hard at the Goan Nightclubs:
Witness some of the craziest parties at LPK Waterfront, Tito’s, Sinq & Club Cabana. There’s a entry fee in most of them for Couples as well as Stags. It varies in the range Rs. 1500-Rs.2500 depending on weekday/ weekend, stags/couples, season and the agent taking you in.
2. South Goa:
South Goa is more peaceful & less crowded. The beaches are cleaner & whiter, there are less activities to do, with less number of Clubs, bars & Restaurants as compared to North Goa. Also, Its more hilly & green as the western ghats begin from here. Overall South Goa is a backpacker’s destination and a place where you find serenity.
Things to do in South Goa:
1. Relax on the Beaches of South Goa:
Beaches in South Goa are more cleaner and whiter. You may come across some beautiful sea cliffs at few beaches like Cola Beach. Refer to my Goa Beach Guide to find your type of beach in South Goa.
2. Go for Dolphin Watching and Island Hopping Tours
Go for Dolphin watching tour and tour to Honeymoon Island at Palolem Beach in South Goa. If you want to chill out on honeymoon Island, you may take beer along but do not trash the island. Carry all your waste back.
You can kayak in the sea at all major southern beaches including Mobor and Palolem beaches. You can book it with a tour package or on the spot as well. Kayaking tours for kayaking in rivers, backwaters and lagoons are also available with different tour operators in Goa. If interested you may book with them.
4. Visit Dudhsagar Falls
Dudhsagar falls is situated on the Madovi river amidst deep jungle near Goa-Karnataka Border. The milky waterfall beneath a rail bridge (featured in Chennai Express movie) is a beautiful sight to see. A dip in the cold water of the pool beneath is extremely refreshing.
How to Reach Dudhsagar Falls?
You can reach there by taxi, bus or train. The nearest stations are Collem and Castle Rock Station . Private vehicles are not allowed after Mollem. Park your vehicle there and buy a ticket to forest department jeep which will take you to the falls and bring you back at a cost of Rs. 500/- per person. They don’t do beyond a point from where you have to trek a bit of distance to reach the waterfall.
You can also trek to Devil’s Canyon and visit the Dudhsagar Spice plantation. A homestay is also available here operated by the forest department. Do not visit the waterfall in monsoon season as the river turns furious.
5. Take a Trip to Spice Plantations
A spice plantation tour is not just educative but very rejuvenating. Strolling through the nature and finding the spices we’ve always seen in dry form on the plants could be intriguing. Many tour operators offer such tours in Goa. You may book with them or just take a drive to one yourself.
6. Head to a Headphone Party
Headphone party silent yet loud unique party experience you’ll find only in Goa. It is organised by a few clubs only on one particular day of the weekend. Clubs offering Headphone Party include- Neptune Point Baech Resort and Alpha Bar in Palolem, Leopard Valley in Canacona and The Laughing Buddha, Arambol.
7. Take a tour to peaceful South Goan Forts
The South Goan Forts including Cabo de Rama and Mormugao fort attract only a minute crowd. You may visit these to find peace. They are not being maintained properly by the Government as the forts in North Goa are.
3. Old Goa & Panaji:
This central part of Goa is marked with famous Portugese Churches, inland islands, mangroves, bird sanctuaries & spice plantations. Old Goa reflects the history and culture of Goa.
Things to do in Old Goa:
1. Visit the Portugese Churches
Experience the peace in the historical Goan Churches. Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral & St. Francis of Assissi are the must visit one’s among others.
2. Take a bicycle tour of the old city
A morning bicycle tour will refresh you to your core. A few companies do offer such activities and you should pre-book it to have a soul soothing experience.
3. Go for a Day long Cruise
Go for a half-day cruise on the Mandovi river. The Cruise includes various sports activities along with Lunch, Drinks, Music & Dance. A lot of companies offer day or night Cruises in Goa. Budget and Luxury both options are available, book as it suits your budget.
4. Gamble at the Floating Casinos :
Goa is one of the only three states/UT’s in India where Gambling is legal other than Sikkim and Daman & Diu. So, head out to one of the four floating casinos in the night to have a unique experience. The popular floating Casinos include- Deltin Jaqk, Deltin Royale, Casino Pride 1 and Casino Pride 2.
You’ll be taken to the anchored ship or the floating Casino by a boat. The whole set-up is quite amazing. Entry Ticket includes free buffet and casino tokens for a certain amount. Do try roulette, its fun & pure probability (at least as it seems to a non-gambler). Enjoy the live performances on the terrace which also has a bar.
Local Transport in Goa
The best way to commute within Goa is by hiring a Scooter/ Bike/Car on rent. To ride a bike/scooter through the Goan breeze is an experience in itself.
Uber and Ola do not operate in Goa due to opposition from the Taxi Unions. For local commute you may use- taxis, autos and public buses in Goa .
Food in Goa
In Goa its easy to find all kinds of food- Vegetarian and non- vegetarian, Indian, Chinese and western food as well. Many restaurants are open 24 hours.
Food on the beach is ultra-expensive, but as soon as you touch the road, there’s a big drop in the price. If you are a budget traveler don’t eat on the beach.
Budget For Goa Trip
A week’s trip would cost minimum Rs. 10k excluding ticket cost to & fro Goa. It’ll vary largely with duration of your holiday and the activities you do.
Here’s a Snapshot of major Costs:
- Hotel Cost: Decent room at a good location starts from Rs. 1300/- per night.
- Food Cost: Rs. 500- Rs.600 per day per head.
- Drinks Cost: Alcohol is damn cheap in Goa. The cheapest beer is Kings , a famous Goan Brand, it is super-cheap @ Rs.60/- per 650ml, yes you read it right.
- Local Transport: Scooter Rent- Cheapest @ Rs. 300/- per day.
- General Water Sports Package (including Banana Ride, Bumper Ride, Jet Ski, Para Sailing ): Rs. 1500/- per head. Individual water sport activities are quite expensive, its best to take a package.
- Casino Entry ticket: Casino Pride 1 had the cheapest entry ticket @ Rs. 2000/- per head including Rs.500/- worth of Casino tokens to gamble, a free dinner & unlimited drinks while playing on a table.
- Day Cruise Cost: Rs. 1600/- per head for a 4-hour adventure on a catamaran including swimming, lunch & drinks.
- Dudhsagar Falls: Per Person costs: Jeep cost Rs. 500/-, Forest entry fee: Rs.50/-, Camera fee Rs. 30/-, Video Camera fee Rs. 150/-.
- Carry Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat at all times (except night obviously 😉 ). Use sunscreen again after you’ve had your fun in the sea. Sunburns sounds petty only until you have them.
- Thoroughly check the vehicle you are renting, take pictures and mention any abnormalities including dents and scratches to the owner, so, later he can’t blame you for it.
- Return the rented vehicle on or before time or you may have to pay a hefty fine. Most of these do not tolerate a 15 min delay not even i good faith.
- Don’t drink and drive, carry your DL and wear a helmet / seat belt, Goa police has several check points on all main routes.
- May carry a mat, portable speakers in the evening to the beach for having a good time at a low cost. May carry beer as well (beer cans recommended) but at your own risk, although it isn’t allowed but many people do drink on the beach. Do not litter and use a dustbin.
- Do not let yourself scammed by people selling drugs and all. Just say no and move on.
Happy Travelling !!