How to get there
Goa has an international airport at Dabolim, 30 km from the capital, Panaji. Several overseas charter companies as well as most domestic airlines have flights to Dabolim. The regular domestic connections are from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kochi and Chennai. From the airport to your hotel or to any of the towns, catch a cab, a metered taxi, city buses or airline coach to their city offices.
The two main railway stations are Margao (Madgaon) and Vasco da Gama. Rail travel to Goa from most parts of India is now vastly improved with the commissioning of the Konkan Railway, the linking of Mumbai and Mangalore along the coast, as well as conversion of the track from metre to broad gauge. The major connections are to Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Rajkot and Thiruvananthapuram. From other places in the north, east and southeast you can travel to Londa Junction and then transfer to a connecting train to Margao/Vasco da Gama.
Goa is also well connected through bus services, there are a lot of AC, sleeper, slumberette Volvo's that travel every night connecting Mumbai, Bangalore, and Pune. Smaller destinations are connected with non-ac buses and non-Volvo buses too. For those who wish to drive, the roads connecting Goa are great drives. Bombay-Goa highway is beautiful and very picturesque; but the road is full of ghats (curves, you drive through some eight hills), so keep your Avomine's handy if you do not take road travel well.
Best time to visit
Goa is basically a round the year tourist haunt because its varying seasons appeal to different people differently. Some find the Goan winter months of November February quite pleasant.
To others Goa is beautiful during the monsoon months of June to September. And many more rush to Goa during the Indian Summer months of April and May where they beat the heat with dips in the pool or the sea and cool beverages.
Gastronomical delights galore! That, in a nutshell is what dining in Goa is all about. Some say it's the water, others, the vinegar, whatever the secret ingredient, it guarantees that every meal served is simply delicious. Goa is famed for its meat and seafood dishes of Portuguese origin such as Sorpotel (pork) Vindaloo (pork), Xacuti (chicken and beef) and Reshado (fish). A must have are the rava fried mussels
, usually listed under starters in every menu. The best place to relish these dishes are at the beach shack restaurants where you can watch the sun set and enjoy the sea breeze while you sip a chilled glass of beer, wine or feni.
at Baga, beach (North Goa) and Johnny’s
at Benaulim, beach (South Goa). An interesting feature of most of Goa's restaurants is the effort they make to serenade you while you eat. Locals display their talent, strumming a guitar or performing with a live band.
, at Baga, Calangute, is set in an old Goan house. The bar is fashioned the old Western style with swinging doors. It is owned by Francesco Souza, an attorney who moonlights as a Chef. The restaurant serves a good selection of food including mussels in wine, roast sliced suckling pig, tender duck, juicy steaks and rich sorpotel.
, at Calangute beach, has been drawing crowds since in opened in 1935. It has a very airy indoor and outdoor section (on the beach) and an enormous menu catering to all kinds of tastes - Goan, Chinese, Indian, and Continental in both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties.
, at Baga River, Baga, is a charming garden restaurant which has an Italian menu that consists of had made pastas, sea food lasagna, strong flavoured beef stew, and pizzas. The list goes on.
, at martin's Building, D Bandodkar Marg, Miramar, Panaji, is a modern restaurant that serves authentic Goan meals from the Hindu and Goan kitchens all over Goa. It is noted for its Prawn hoonam, Chicken and Pork Girem-Mirem and haren mas. The specially marinated Goa sausages served here are quite legendary. The Crab Xec here is terrific.
, at Rua de Ourem, patto, Panaji is a two tiered restaurant comprising the Gazebo
(Continental, Italian and Goan food) on the ground floor and the Dragon
(Chinese food) above it. Gazebo recommendations are the tuna salad, chickpea salad, sea food sizzler and sea food lasagna. Try out the spare ribs, crispy wantons and dragon tail prawns at the Dragon.
near, CIE, off CHOGM Road, Saligao, Bardez, is an eatery of every Goan foodie's list. Its Chicken Cafreal is awesome! Florentine cooks the way Goan food has to taste, so there are no concessions on spice here. The ordinary Goan fish curry rice and fried fish is best tasted here.
at Bailichall, Bogmalo, serves the tastiest food in Bogmalo. Prawn curry rice, prawn balchao, rava fired prawns and tandoori appetizers, besides other dishes make up the menu.
at Bimvaddo, Betalbatim, which started out as a small shack is rated as one of the best places to eat in South Goa. Great ambience, good food, enjoyable music. It has the extra ingredients to pep up your appetite. Martin's Corner makes good fish caldin, (cooked with coconut and spices), fresh lobster, red snapper, Goa sausage chilly fry, King Crab Special, among other dishes.
Joecons Garden Restaurant
, Nr Taj Exotica, Benaulim, Great ambience, good food and friendly service in a beautiful garden area, is what makes this restaurant a great place to eat at. (Complimented by a small indoor seating area). The food portions are large and the lobster is not to be missed. While sea food hogs the menu, the restaurant also has a full range of Indian dishes including a special selection of vegetarian delicacies and some continental dishes as well.
The best nightlife establishments are in North Goa and Panaji. Except for a few, the nightclubs in South Goa are mostly confined to the five-star resort hotels, which all have their own discos, bars, sometimes gaming rooms. The Leela Palace and Holiday Inn Resort in Mobor, and the Goa Renaissance Resort and Club Mahindra in Varca are worth checking out, if you're staying in the vicinity. The choice of nightclubs in North Goa is vast - there is Bom Sucesso at Candolim beach, which has karaoke nights on Tuesdays and Saturdays. East Meets West at Baga has a band playing every evening from 6.30pm, and jazz on Saturday nights. The Flying Dolphin Beach Bar in Calangute has karaoke, a barbeque and fireworks every evening. There is also Ozone, at Mariott Hotel, Panaji, On the Rocks, Dona Paula, Trafalgar Chowk, Porvorim and Aqua, Cavallosim.
Club Cabana on Arpora Hill, ten minutes from Calangute, is a multi level nightclub that hosts special parties on certain days of the week. This 'night club in the sky' that greets you with a big golden lips signboard at the foot of the hill and cat-eyes embedded in the dirt track on the path towards it , is quite the spot to hang out.
The Log Cabin, at Porba Vaddo, Calangute, Bardez run by Leslie and daisy is one of the few places that are open during the monsoon. It has the genial atmosphere of an English styled Pub and is known for its exotic cocktails and fine Liqueurs. The club leans more towards karaoke and tends to draw the English tourist. It also has a big screen TV where you can watch football.
Friends' Pub, at Arambol beach is run by Dominic Mendes. Party time here starts at 5 in the evening. The pub is known for its
imaginative cocktails. The best selling mix here is Domingos.
Club Tito's, at Baga, is a regular hang out for expats. It is also the most talked and written about Pub in Goa, as it used to be the hub of the hippie and flower power culture. Every night has a special theme. There are fire shows and ghost parties. The DJ spins a whole range of music from retro, to hip-hop, rap and reggae.
Mambo's, at Tito's Lane, Baga, has a large open bar with a huge TV screen that shows football matches and music videos. The entrance fee depends on the day of the week. Tony and Debbie pep up the red hot salsa nights here.
Central to all shopping in Goa is how skilled you are at bargaining. And the best place to shop is on Goa's streets close to the Beaches. Shopaholics will find exciting deals from handicrafts, sarongs and beach wear to high fashion dressing, accessories, antique jewelry and home decor! Goa's shopping outlets comprise cosmopolitan department stores, designer boutiques and the makeshift stalls at the very popular flea markets.
The main up market shopping area is on Panaji's 18th June Road, where you will find branded products and plush department stores. Wendell Roderick's Designer Space, near Louis Gama Garden, Campal, Panaji and Souza's, at Roua Do Ourem, Fontainhas Panaji are famous for clothes.
Most of the lifestyle shops are housed in renovated old Goon homes and are usually found in Panaji and North Goa. To name a few there are: Goa Velha, near Panaji Inn, Fountains, and Panaji, known for exquisite hand painted tiles. The Attic, at Mapusa, Casa Goa, Opposite Milky Way, Baga Road, Calangute., Manthan, near Taj Exotica, Benaulim, Sangolda, off CHOGM Road, Sangolda, Bardez.
Goa's handicrafts are great souvenirs to take back home. They include brassware, silverware, terracotta, shell work, crochet, carved furniture, bamboo work, paper-mache, etc. These are available in the Government Emporia and also at the street shops. The local craftsmen make showpieces out of natural stuff like coconut husk or palm leaves. Craftsmen from Cuncunolim, South Goa make wooden articles which are lacquered in festive colours These colourful items are called chitaris. Skilled brass workers at Corlim, Mapusa, specialize in the exquisite candelabra-like brass oil lamps called samai. These range from the foot-high, four-branched avatar to many-branched items. The silversmiths and goldsmiths of Goa are known the world over for their craftsmanship, which is why you will find very unusual gold jewelry designs in the local gold shops. You can bargain over the rates quoted.
The Goa Handicrafts, Rural & Small Scale Industries Development Corporation Limited (GHRSSIDC), provides marketing outlets for Goan handicrafts at the following outlets:
GHRSSIDC, Crafts Complex, Neugi Nagar, Rue De Ourem, Panaji.
Bicholim: Pottery Production Centre, D 2/7, Bicholim Industrial Estte, Bicholim.
Calangute: Handicrafts Emporium, Tourist Resort, Calangute.
Mapusa: Handicrafts Emporium, Mapusa Residency, Mapusa.
Margao: Handicrafts Emporium, Tourist Hostel, Margao.
Panaji: Handicrafts Emporium, Panaji Residency, Panaji.
Handicrafts Emporium, Interstate Bus Terminus, Kadamba Bus Stand, Panaji.
Vasco-Da-Gama: Handicrafts Emporium, Goa Airport, Dabolim.
Handicrafts Emporium, Tourist Hostel, Swatantra Path, Vasco Da Gama.
Other places to shop are the Gulf Supermarket at Panaji; Handicrafts & Silk Emporium, Maganlal Changi at Panaji. For crochet and embroidered items, there is the Institute of Nossa Senhora de Piedade, at Panaji. Apart from this, there is the Magsons Supercentre at Miramar; Treasure Trove at Panaji; Velho & Filhos Shopping Centre at Panaji and Hotel Silver Sands at Colva Beach. The Mapusa Friday Market is where stalls sell everything from curios and old coins to dried fish and spices. The Anjuna Flea Market on Wednesday is a major attraction for people from all over. It's a blend of Tibetan and Kashmiri trader wares, colourful Gujarati tie and dye and mirror work products, ethnic wear and Indian handicraft items.
For food items check out Infantaria Bakers and Confectioners, just beyond Calangute market, that makes and sells Goa's best bibinca, (the traditional 40-egg-Goan cake), pinag (black jaggery and rice flour sweet), as well as a variety of other cakes, croissants and cookies The Goan Bazaars are a medley of sight sounds, aroma and colour. The Mapusa and Margao markets are where you can pick up the best Xacuti Masalas, Kashmiri Chillies, Kokum, Black jaggery, goan sweets (Dodol, Bibinca, Pinag, and Dosh), salt fish, Pickles, Spiced Goa Sausages, Cashew nut and wines. The rates of everything including alcohol are cheaper in Margao than in North or Central Goa.
Zantye's cashew nuts are of the best quality and can be found in shops all over the state. Mapusa's Pedro Vincent Vaz produces good Port Wine. The Goan liquor stores have a variety of alcoholic beverages, but the varieties in wines are the most popular.
Goa's own brews Feni and Urak are popular buys as these are available only in Goa. Feni is made both of Palm and Cashew and is available in liquor stores all over.
The best known super market in Margao is Kitchnette near the Margao Petrol Pump, where you can get everything from Goan flavours to imported food brands. The best home-made bath cake (coconut cake) and light beef pattis are available at the nondescript Bonzil Bakery in Varca, South Goa. The famous Goa Vinegar is made by the locals and sold in the smaller grocery stores. Good home made Goa sausages are delivered at your doorstep by Domnic Fernandes, Dovendem, Margao, Goa. Don't forget to pick up the well known rubber slippers and the sturdy black Goa Bags from either the Mapusa Market or the Margao market to put all your goodies in!
In Panaji, the Goa Tourist Development Corporation offices are located in the centre of the city right opposite the main jetty. In South Goa, the GTDC office is located in the GTDC Tourist Hostel, also located in the middle of the town of Margao.