The tropical climate, roadside food stalls, countless knick-knack vendors, crowded streets and the never-ending daily chaos – to manoeuvre oneself around all this, a tourist requires a bit of insider tips about Goa.
Travel Documents and Currency
- Keep all travel documents, money and valuable items well-hidden from the public eye.
- The Indian Rupee cannot be taken out of the country nor purchased while out of India. Money exchanging facilities are available at the airport, state and private banks. It’s best to carry Travellers cheques or International Debit Cards rather than liquid cash.
- ATMs are available in most towns and tourist areas, reducing the need to have ready-cash with you. Most public sector banks such as State Bank of India and private banks such as HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, and Axis Bank have ATMs that accept Cirrus, Maestro, MasterCard and Visa Cards.
- Travellers Cheques of all major brands are easily changed. The currencies that are most widely and easily accepted are the US Dollar, Euro and British Pound Sterling.
- If you are arriving from a foreign country, you should change some of your currency into Indian Rupees at the airport, at the nearest bank branch or at one of the Money Exchange counters like Thomas Cook. You will find the best rates at State Bank of India or at Thomas Cook. Money Exchange services are also available at most major hotels, resorts and private money changers in the area but the rates may not be attractive.
- Most hotels have in-room electronic safes where you should stash valuables, including passports and most of your cash.
- If any documents or valuables are lost, contact the nearest Government of India Tourist Office or the nearest Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) Office or the nearest Police Station.
- To extend your visa, contact the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) located in the Police Headquarters at Panaji.
- Always have a small emergency card with your name, age, blood group and other relevant medical details and a contact phone number to use in case of an emergency.
Packing and Baggage
- Voltage in Goa is 220 - 240 Volts AC, 50 Hertz, so remember to pack an adapter for all your electrical appliances.
- Goa is located on the Konkan Coast with many sunny days and extensive sandy beaches and high humidity; so always dress for the tropics.
- Cotton clothes are the best option during the warm and sunny days from mid-February to May.
- Woollen clothes are rarely needed, and even if you do feel the cold, all you need is a light jacket or sweater. The windy and chilly season is from early December to late January, sometimes extending to mid-February.
- Never leave baggage and items unattended.
Eating and Drinking
- Do not accept sweets, drinks and other consumable items from strangers. It may be used to induce a deep sleep and steal your belongings.
- Be careful with what you eat and drink. Always ask for bottled mineral water. Check out the smaller restaurants if you’re seeking authentic Goan cuisine. Fresh seafood is the safest and most delicious cuisine to enjoy.
- Wash your hands with soap and water often.
- Use insect repellents and mosquito nets whenever possible and wear suitable clothes to avoid insect bites.
- Avoid accepting any sexual services offered, as no assurance is available for the cleanliness or health conditions of the people offering such services.
- If you need to visit a hospital, always insist on sterilised or disposable syringes, and make sure any blood transfusion is done after ample testing to prove the blood is not infected with a disease.
- Public Pay Toilets are available in most reputable places and these should be used when needed. Refrain from using the free public toilets.
- Deposit garbage in the nearest waste bin available.
- Make sure you have a good bath at the end of the day. Feet should be appropriately covered to avoid infections.
- See Health & Safety section for additional tips.
- The preferred season to visit Goa is from October to mid-February, and Goa is crowded and festive during this period. The temperature and humidity are bearable during these months.
- Government appointed tour guides are available from reputed travel agencies.
- When touring Goa, don’t just concentrate on the most known beaches and attractions. Goa has a large selection of smaller beaches with more privacy and guaranteed relaxation.
- Cameras and video filming are prohibited in some tourist spots, so always check before you enter with such equipment.
- Lifeguards are present at the beaches of Goa, and tourists should always speak to them and ensure the sea is safe for swimming. Do not swim out into the sea during the Monsoon season.
- Rude as it seems, often the only way to get rid of a persistent tout, beggar, or con artist is to pretend they don't exist and continue along your way without pause.
- Don’t be deceived by the apparent cheap rates of goods and services. Most often, prices are quoted way above the marked rates, and it would still appear to be very cheap because of the currency conversion rates. Check with reliable sources before embarking on a shopping trip or making any deals.
- Always shop in government approved stores including emporiums and handicraft centres for good quality products at reasonable prices.
- Offer 20 percent of the asking price when bargaining in small establishments. Be prepared to pay 40 to 50 percent of the original asking price.
- Beware of roadside touts, as they are not appointed officially and may not be trustworthy.
- Motor traffic circulation is on the left, and pedestrians should walk on the right.
- Foreign nationals must have an International Driving Licence and should keep all travel and other relevant documents at hand.
- Taxis and auto-rickshaws should be paid according to metered rates and if no metre is available, travellers should use the tariff card issued by the Directorate of Transport as a guide to recognise acceptable rates. These tariff cards are displayed inside the taxis.
- If you are travelling on the train, don't leave your baggage unattended. You can clip it with a chain attached to the seat to foil most thieves.
- Vehicles are not allowed on the beach.
- Refrain from handing out money to beggars; these are almost always full-time professionals in search of easy money.
- All religious sites should be equally respected and always remember to observe silence when passing such a site.
- When entering a religious site, especially a Hindu temple, remove any footwear. A small donation for the maintenance of the temple is expected upon leaving the building.
- Do not wander alone in isolated or dark beaches and back alleys at night.
- Do not flash valuables or wads of cash. Do not carry wallets prominently; and keep a firm hand on purses in crowded areas. Exercise modesty at all times.
- Avoid provocative debates and arguments where alcohol may be involved.
- Exercise caution during festivals and religious processions, where crowds are usually overwhelming and can become unruly.
Laws and Regulations
- The use, possession and trade of any drug is illegal in Goa. If any tourist is caught with such drugs, the minimal sentence is 10 years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 10,000. Drug offences do not qualify for bail and time-off for good behaviour is not an option. Serving the given sentence is mandatory.
- Articles made from rare and endangered, thus protected, animal species have no sale and purchase rights. It’s prohibited to acquire such articles and if found in possession, it’s a punishable offence.
- Nudity at the beach or public places is prohibited. It’s punishable under National and State laws.
- Do not smoke in public places/vehicles. Smoking and spitting is banned at all places of public use.
- Foreigners may be targeted by corrupt cops looking to get a bribe or payoff, so you'd best steer clear of any suspicious behaviour such as purchasing illegal drugs.
- If you're involved in an accident, have your hotel manager report the incident immediately.