_Goa is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in South West 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. Goa is India's richest state with a GDP per capita two and a half times that of the country as a whole.
_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 of Portuguese India 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 numbers 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.
Travelling around Goa is cheap and easy. There are a variety of methods, all of which are interesting and at times exciting.
For most people, a taxi to your hotel is the obvious choice but despite the friendliness of the taxi driver, take your time and choose what you want to do and where you want to go thereafter. Always ask the fare and negotiate before you set off.
Buses are regularly available and run from villages to towns to cities. They can be busy so expect to squash on a seat with two old ladies, a chicken and a sack of rice. There are main bus stations in Panjim, Mapusa and Margoa. Long distance luxury coaches can be taken to places further afield.
Tuktuks or three wheelers are everywhere and are also a cheap method of transport. Again negotiate the price first.
Trains run along the coast and can be booked through a local Travel Agent or at the main stations in Thivim or Margoa.
Cars are available for hire but some are not from registered car hire companies so make sure it is insured and carry the paperwork in the car with you. Before you leave your own country apply for an International Driving Licence which is an annual driving permit.
Driving in India is dangerous but if you take your time and use your horn liberally then accidents are rare. Most common are accidents on scooters and motor bikes.
If an accident happens there will usually be someone to help and there is now a free emergency number 108 to call for an ambulance.
Every British Passport holder from the UK needs a Tourist Visa to enter India and this is obtained by applying online to VFS.
This Visa lasts for SIX months and after leaving India.The Tourist Visa starts from the date it is issued not the date of arrival in India.
Having applied online and made the payment, the form and photos along with your passport valid for at least 6 months must be sent to the Indian High Commission. There are very specific regulations about the photos which must be 2 x 2 inches so make sure to read all the information on the visa application website.
Once you arrive in India there is also an Immigration Form to complete and when you book into your hotel a Foreigners Registration Form to complete. Bring some passport size photos and copies of your passport and visa when you come.
There are many different flight routes to Goa leaving from a variety of UK airports. Some people even take the train from Mumbai to Goa. Every year the cost of flights increases but there are some special offers with charter companies so it’s worth checking carefully.
The flight times vary but on average it takes about 9 hours to fly from London to Mumbai and then a further hour to fly from Mumbai to Goa. If you travel via Mumbai then you have to transfer from the International Airport to the Domestic Airport and a bus transfer is provided.
Check health and vaccination advice with the World Travel Guide. There is a very good standard of health care in Goa. It is advisable to buy Travel Insurance before you leave.
_ The airport in Goa is called Dabolim and is located on the coast in the middle area of Goa. It is well placed for all regions and is within a two hour drive of nearly everywhere in Goa.
Once through Immigration and Baggage Collection the exit is usually surrounded by baggage handlers who insist on taking your cases. Unless you particularly want some help then push your own trolley outside and catch your breath. It’s very easy after a long flight to be willing to be guided to a taxi that you have not chosen. There are official taxi rates and these are on display opposite the exit if you choose to use one.
If you need collection, one of the taxi drivers we can recommend is Kundan Kerkar, known as George. He will arrange to meet you by the exit with your name on a card. He is helpful and honest and can be called on 0091 982 238 1544. If he is busy he will arrange a replacement driver.