Goa is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located on the west coast of India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its western coast.
Panaji is the state's capital, while Vasco da Gama is the largest city. The historic city of Margao still exhibits the cultural influence of the Portuguese, who first landed in the early 16th century as merchants, and conquered it soon thereafter. The Portuguese overseas territory existed for about 450 years, until it was annexed by India in 1961.
Renowned for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture, Goa is visited by large number of international and domestic tourists each year. It also has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which is classified as a biodiversity hotspot.
Goa’s relatively small size means that you don’t have to stress about planning a route; the short distances enable you to travel to the other end of the state in a couple of hours.
Options abound for backpackers, budget, business and luxury travellers. The only challenge comes during peak season when the crowds may force you to spend the occasional night in a pricier place.
When to go
The best time to visit Goa is during the cooler months, from October to February. If you arrive in October, right at the start of the season, you’ll find the beaches pleasantly empty. However, if you are looking for shacks in early October, you would be disappointed; they usually start coming up around mid-October.
The peak season lasts from mid-December to first week of January. The peak season draws the most crowds which results in exorbitant prices for travel and stay; but it’s also the time when Goa is at its partying best.
March to May can be very humid. Mid-May onwards, swimming becomes less pleasant as the sea gets rougher and the shacks start packing up for the monsoon.
It is generally accepted Goa is at its best (read as lush green) during the monsoons which lasts from June to September. The additional upside of visiting during monsoons is that you get the best deals for travel and stay.
The temperature throughout the year is moderate and ranges from 22°C to 30°C; the only exceptions being April and May when it reaches 35°C. Humidity increases during the months of April and May; you may experience the occasional pre-monsoon showers during these months.
Goa offers a range of eating, drinking and stay options for all travellers ranging from budget travellers to ones who opt to stay and dine at luxury resorts.
For US$10 to US$20 a day, travellers can opt to stay in beach huts or guest houses and eat & drink at cheap local restaurants. For US$30 to US$50 a day, travellers can opt to stay in clean accommodation, eat meals and have drinks in restaurants or beach shacks.
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