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Goa gettingstarted

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© Lonely Planet Publications
12

Getting Started
The range of travellers who visit Goa, from first timers to package tourists
to hard-core adventurers, is a testament to its widespread appeal and the
relative ease of travelling here. Goa’s size means that you don’t have to
stress about planning a route or slicing your days into units to see and
do everything; if you don’t like where you are, you can relocate to the
other end of the state in a couple of hours.
Though Goa isn’t as cheap as the rest of India, its range of facilities
means that you can travel here on any budget; the only challenge comes
during peak season when the crowds may force you to spend the occasional night in a pricier place.
Health and safety are considerations – as they are everywhere – but on
the whole Goa couldn’t be an easier place to visit.

WHEN TO GO

See Climate Charts (p213)
for more information.

The best time to visit Goa is during the cooler months, from November
to March. If you arrive in October, right at the start of the tourist season,
you’ll find the beaches pleasantly empty, but may also find that some of
the facilities (such as beach shacks) aren’t yet open for business.
April and May can be very humid, and swimming becomes less pleasant as the sea gets rougher. Some facilities may also be closed, as most
beach shacks pack up after Easter.
Many Goans feel that the monsoon, which visits Goa between June
and the end of September, is when the state is at its best. Parties and
celebrations are held to welcome the rain, and the countryside turns lush
and green almost overnight. In terms of tourism, Goa is virtually dead.
Some guesthouses simply close up, and swimming in the sea is out of the
question. The plus side to visiting at this time is that you will have the
place to yourself at very little cost.
Without doubt the peak season for visitors to Goa is from 22 December to 5 January (give or take a couple of days on either side), and some
people have been coming back annually for a decade or more. The massive influx of visitors allows hotels and guesthouses to charge exorbitant
prices and many places are booked solid, but it’s a great time to be in Goa.
The weather is perfect, the place is buzzing and in typical Goan fashion
there are parties most nights.
The high season covers the period from mid-December to late January (with the exception of the peak season over Christmas). The middle

DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT…
A light suitcase – there’s so much to buy in Goa that y...
12 www.lonelyplanet.com
The range of travellers who visit Goa, from first timers to package tourists
to hard-core adventurers, is a testament to its widespread appeal and the
relative ease of travelling here. Goa’s size means that you don’t have to
stress about planning a route or slicing your days into units to see and
do everything; if you don’t like where you are, you can relocate to the
other end of the state in a couple of hours.
Though Goa isn’t as cheap as the rest of India, its range of facilities
means that you can travel here on any budget; the only challenge comes
during peak season when the crowds may force you to spend the occa-
sional night in a pricier place.
Health and safety are considerations – as they are everywhere – but on
the whole Goa couldn’t be an easier place to visit.
WHEN TO GO
The best time to visit Goa is during the cooler months, from November
to March. If you arrive in October, right at the start of the tourist season,
you’ll find the beaches pleasantly empty, but may also find that some of
the facilities (such as beach shacks) aren’t yet open for business.
April and May can be very humid, and swimming becomes less pleas-
ant as the sea gets rougher. Some facilities may also be closed, as most
beach shacks pack up after Easter.
Many Goans feel that the monsoon, which visits Goa between June
and the end of September, is when the state is at its best. Parties and
celebrations are held to welcome the rain, and the countryside turns lush
and green almost overnight. In terms of tourism, Goa is virtually dead.
Some guesthouses simply close up, and swimming in the sea is out of the
question. The plus side to visiting at this time is that you will have the
place to yourself at very little cost.
Without doubt the peak season for visitors to Goa is from 22 Decem-
ber to 5 January (give or take a couple of days on either side), and some
people have been coming back annually for a decade or more. The mas-
sive influx of visitors allows hotels and guesthouses to charge exorbitant
prices and many places are booked solid, but it’s a great time to be in Goa.
The weather is perfect, the place is buzzing and in typical Goan fashion
there are parties most nights.
The high season covers the period from mid-December to late Janu-
ary (with the exception of the peak season over Christmas). The middle
Getting Started
season, known in Goa simply as ‘season’, lasts from October to mid-
December, and from February to June. The low season is from July to
September.
The temperature throughout the year is fairly constant, varying from a
maximum of 28°C or 29°C in July to a maximum of 33°C in May. Average
minimums for the same months are 24°C and 26.5°C.
COSTS & MONEY
India as a whole is a very cheap country to visit. However, costs in Goa
often depend on whether or not you’re being charged as a rich foreign
tourist. Some things seem ridiculously cheap: a haircut for US$1, a
vegetarian thali (traditional all-you-can-eat meal) for 50c, a one-hour
bus ride for 30c or a packet of Indian cigarettes for 50c. But souvenirs,
many hotels, petrol and imported goods will seem relatively expensive
in comparison.
By staying in rock-bottom budget hotels or guesthouses, eating fish
curry rice (fish in a spicy sauce served over rice) at local restaurants and
not moving around or partying too much, it’s possible to get by in Goa
on Rs 250 (US$6) a day. Outside the November to March high season,
accommodation costs are substantially reduced. At the other end of the
scale, staying at a five-star resort and living it up can easily cost US$250
a day or more.
Most visitors will opt for a middle ground. On a budget, but allowing
for clean accommodation, meals in cheap restaurants or beach shacks,
the occasional taxi or motorcycle hire and a bit of nightlife, expect to
pay US$15 to US$25 a day. If you’re on a midrange budget – staying in
a decent hotel with a pool, eating seafood in touristy restaurants, taking
taxis everywhere and buying souvenirs – set aside perhaps US$50 a day.
If you’re on a package deal with accommodation included, you should
find that US$25 to US$30 is ample.
TRAVEL LITERATURE
David Tomory’s Hello Goodnight: A Life of Goa, published by Lonely
Planet, explores Goa’s relationship with travellers over the ages. It is
a lushly written book that’s sometimes too heavy on description but
ultimately paints an in-depth picture of Goa and what it has meant to
travellers. If you’re looking for reasons to go to Goa, Tomory delves deep
into the state and transcends the hackneyed notion of Goa as a mere
beach destination.
Chasing the Monsoon, by Alexander Frater, is an Englishman’s account
of a journey north from Kovalam in Kerala all the way to Cherrapunji in
Meghalaya, one of the wettest places on earth, following the onset of the
monsoon as it moves north across the country. Frater does pass through
Goa, but it is his exploration of the monsoon and its effect on people
that is the real journey.
Richard Burton’s Goa and the Blue Mountains or Six Months of Sick
Leave is the earliest travelogue that is readily obtainable. Originally pub-
lished in 1851, this account of his journey through Goa and southwards
to Ootacamund makes great reading. The book is interesting for the
historical perspective but is also highly enjoyable because of Burton’s ir-
reverent sense of humour. This book, in a beautiful blue hardback edition
emblazoned with gold, is widely available all over Goa.
Goa Freaks: My Hippie Years in India, by Cleo Odzer, is a fascinating
insider’s account of the hippy heyday in Anjuna in the 1970s. Odzer
unapologetically details her ‘freak’ life, which she sustained through
See Climate Charts ( p213 )
for more information.
DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT…
A light suitcase – there’s so much to buy in Goa that you’ll want space for shopping
A light long-sleeved top in winter for slightly chilly evenings or early mornings
A reliable padlock – it’s an essential travel item for budget and even midrange travellers
given that many guesthouses only offer a flimsy padlock for security
A torch to navigate poorly lit streets
Your driving licence (and copies) and sturdy closed-toe shoes so you can take in the country-
side from the back of a motorcycle
Shorts and tops of a respectable length
HOW MUCH?
Entry to club man/
woman Rs 500/free!
20g chocolate Rs 5
10 cigarettes Rs 15
Sarong Rs 50
Shave Rs 40
See also Lonely Planet
Index, inside front cover
GETTING STARTED •• Costs & Money 13
© Lonely Planet Publications
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