Myth №1 – Goa is in India so it’s dirty, disease ridden and full of poverty.
It’s true that the standard of living in Goa does leave much to be desired by our own standards, especially in smaller villages where you’re sure to see rubbish laying around, people living in untidy conditions and room for improvement generally compared to what we are used to. But this is not some kind of plague pit, there are no lepers in the streets and the air is not full of infectious disease. No-one ever promised things would be like at home – and we all know well enough about washing our hands and not drinking water from the tap.
Myth № 2. Poor service in hotels
No, not really. In northern Goa there are many 2-3 star hotels where service is pretty limited – bedlinen is not changed daily and if the aircon breaks down you’ll have to report it more than once before anyone thinks to come and see to it, but then again people come here mainly to party, so the fact that there’s a bed at all tends to be enough.
If it’s a more personalised service and home comforts you’re looking for, southern Goa would be more to your liking as this is where you’ll find the four- and five-star hotels with a more European level of service. Here can be assured of total relaxation and attentive staff.
Top 3 hotels in southern Goa bookable on Zenhotels.com.
- Joecons Beach Resort: twin/double rooms from $49/night
- Alila Diwa Goa: twin/double rooms from $167/night
- Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa: twin/double rooms from $192/night
Top 3 hotels in northern Goa bookable onZenhotels.com.
- The Hawaii Comforts: twin/double rooms from $39/night
- Hard Rock Hotel Goa: twin/double rooms from $161/night
- Lemon Tree Amarante Beach Resort, Goa: twin/double rooms from $160/night
Myth № 3. All beaches in Goa have pure white sand and crystal clear blue waters
Alas not everywhere. If you want your beach to be like the ones shown on the postcards you have to look quite hard. The nicest beaches tend to be in the South, where it’s more expensive and the infrastructure is better. The beaches in the North tend to be less picturesque.
Beaches in northern Goa
- Terekhol – one of the few quiet beaches in northern Goa
- Mandrem – many natural bathing pools form along the seafront here and the water soon heats up – it feels like you’re bathing in warm milk.
- Little and Big Vagator – Big Vagator is famous for its vibrant parties and Little Vagator is a bit more secluded and wild, surrounded by rocks and inlets.
- Ashvem is in idyllic, peaceful place, ideally suited to kiting.
Beaches in southern Goa
- Bogmalo – very modern and popular with tourists with plenty of cafes and bars serving excellent seafood.
- Benaulim – this beach is great for dolphin watching – maybe you will catch a glimpse of them as they pirouette offshore.
- Varca and Cavelossim – golden sands and palm trees surrounded by luxurious hotels.
- Palolem – the southernmost beach where you will find the whitest sand, clear blue waters and sheer tranquillity.
Myth № 4. You’ll starve because the food is too spicy to eat
No! You won’t starve! Goa has adapted to the numbers of tourists visiting from all over the world and always warn about spicy dishes on the menu whilst offering European style alternatives. In some places you can even find traditional dishes from home being served, even if they are with a bit of local flavour.
If you venture off the beaten track into some of the more remote villages, the chances of eating something hot spicy are quite high so take care. And if you really don’t fancy taking any chances with the local cuisine, go for a hotel where meals are included, for instance on half board basis (breakfast and evening meal included).
Myth № 5. The only entertainment on offer is Goa Trance
Of course not! Goa Trance is a type of electronic music which developed here in the 1980’s. You can see how the trancers like to party at one of their many beach gatherings but remember that these are unauthorized and you’ll meet some strange folk there. Maybe better to observe from the sidelines. If this isn’t really your cup of tea, here are some other great places to spend an evening
- Deltin Royale Casino, Panaji — a floating casino in the capital of Goa, beautifully lit up at night – this is one boat you won’t want to miss. Don’t worry if gambling is not your thing – you can always take in the live music and enjoy a cocktail or two.
- Club Cubana, Arpora — one of the best known night clubs with a fabulous panoramic view over the city from its rooftop. Entrance is not free but drinks are included in the price. Inside are some spacious rooms and a swimming pool.
- Night market, Arpora — one of the best places anywhere in the world to learn the art of haggling and to see the best of what’s on offer locally. You can find just about anything here – CDs, hand embroidered shawls, tea, souvenirs, spices. Once you’ve had enough of shopping, head for something to eat and take in some of the street concerts.
Myth №6. Goa’s a small place, there’s nothing much there to see.
What rubbish! Goa is a very particular Indian state with amazing scenery and a colourful mix of cultures. Take some notes on what you should be sure not to miss
- Fort Chapora – this fortress dates back to the Portuguese rule of the 17th century. From the top of the hill there is a wonderful view over the Indian Ocean and the coastline. A tradition has developed amongst travellers to watch the sun go down at the fortress on their last day in Goa.
- Church Square, Panaji – the main attraction here is the snow-white church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception with its gardens nearby which are particularly popular with the locals.
- Dudhsagar Falls – a multi-storey waterfall and one of the highest in the world. Not for nothing does its name mean “milky ocean” because the water takes on a milky white colour against the dark rocks as it tumbles downwards from a great height.
- Sahakari Spice Farm, Ponda – if you want to get the most out of your visit here, make sure you book a guided tour. You will be taken around the farm and shown how the spices are grown and processed. You can also have a ride on an elephant and they will teach you to climb palm trees. Then it will be time for lunch and your meal will contain the very spices grown here – and you then can buy them afterwards from the small shop.
When’s the best time to go?
June to September is the rainy season in Goa so best to go between October and May. Although these are the winter months, the temperatures are comfortable – up to 30°C, so no really sweltering heat – quite alright for going on bike rides in the surrounding countryside or swimming in the sea.
How best to get a visa?
Very simple. Just log on to the visa centre site at Indian visa centre. An electronic visa takes 4-10 days to process which you then download, print and take to the airport with you. You are allowed to stay for a maximum of 30 days.
What currency do they use in Goa?
Then local currency is the rupee. The exchange rate is quite attractive 1 USD = 68, 63 INR at 3.08.2018. $100 is a huge amount to the locals to at first everything will seem cheap, but make no mistake, soon you will begin to understand the difference between cheap and very cheap.
How do you get around?
Mopeds and scooters are the safest and easiest ways to get around and you can also hire auto-rickshaws. If you don’t plan to do a lot of moving around, just use a taxi.