Getting around Goa is not really a daunting job if you are willing to spend a reasonable amount of money. Goa is a small place with friendly people who are often reliable and willing to assist you if approached properly.
However, this does not mean that you should cease being alert and careful, or abuse local hospitality. Goa is a safe holiday destination for domestic and foreign tourists alike.
Since Goa tourism generates a lot of revenue, it is incumbent on the state government to ensure that visitors have a hassle-free holidays in Goa. For this, providing them with good transport services is important. Transport services thus constitute a vital part of Goa's tourism sector. However, the public transport system is still in the process of improving itself further to meet tourist needs.
Depending on how much you can pay and the places you want to visit, you can decide on the mode of transport.
Bicycle in Goa:Getting Around Goa by Bicycle
Goa offers bounty of range for cycling, with relatively smooth-surfaced highways, rocky dirt tracks, coastal routes through coconut palms and winding country roads through spice plantations, rural villages and ancient temples. A bicycle can also simply be a convenient way of getting around beach towns.
If you want a quality machine for serious touring, it’s worth bringing your own. The downside is that your bike is likely to be a curiosity and more vulnerable to theft. Bring spare tyres, tubes, patch kits, chassis, cables, freewheels, a pump with the necessary connection and spokes, tools and a repair manual.
Hiring a bicycle is not difficult in Goa, but hiring a good bicycle is not so easy. Every beach in Goa has a multitude of people who are prepared to rent out bicycles – just ask around and someone will rent you their bicycle, more often than not an Indian-made single-gear rattler. Away from the main tourist areas, you wont’ find bicycle hire places.
For a long stay of three months or more in Goa, it’s worth considering buying a bicycle locally. Every town has at least a couple of shops selling various brands of basic Indian bikes.
Motorcycle taxis in Goa:Getting around Goa by Motorcycle taxis
Goa is the only state in India where motorcycles are a licensed form of taxi. Goa's motorcycle taxi riders, popularly known as 'pilots', are a quick way to travel and are best for short distances.
There is no dearth of these vehicles. However, remember that bonafide operators ride black motorbikes with yellow mudguards. They gather, along with taxis and autorickshaws, at strategic points in towns and beach resorts. They’re fun and they’re fast – no other form of transportation can so quickly and efficiently navigate through traffic.
You should settle the fare in advance to avoid any confusion or argument.
Rented scooters or motorcycles in Goa:Getting around Goa by Rented scooters or motorcycles
If you want to roam around Goa, renting a scooter or motorcycle is definitely the best option. Economically too, it's the best bet for a local tour.
If you plan to spend most of your time lying on the beach, you may have little use for a motorcycle, but if you want to move around a bit, follow the parties, check out the scene and restaurants at different beaches or head inland for the day, you’ll soon find it’s a hassle without your own transport. The freedom that a motorcycle affords is hard to beat.
However, you should carry your domestic or international driver's licence to rent or ride anything beyond a 25cc moped. You may, otherwise, find yourself giving unnecessary explanations to police officials.
Moreover, you should posses some evidence of rental and insurance of your vehicle. Rates differ according to the season, the vehicle and the period you rent it for. Do confirm though that no part of the vehicle is damaged at the time of hire.
Auto rickshaws in Goa:Getting around Goa by Autorickshaws
A typical Indian mode of transport, auto rickshaws are considered the best options for short trips. An autorickshaw is a yellow-and-black three-wheeled contraption powered by a noisy two-stroke motorcycle engine. It has a canopy, a driver up front and seats for two (or sometimes more) passengers behind.
These three-wheeled vehicles, run by the meter, charge per kilometer. You can take autorickshaws from airports, bus stands or railway stations. Even these autorickshaws are available in shopping markets and also on various places.
Autorickshaw is cheaper than a taxi and generally a better option for short trips.
Cars in Goa:Getting around Goa by Cars
Both self and chauffeur-driven cars are available on rent for a local tour of Goa. If you’re likely to spend a large amount of time on Goa beaches, it’s easier to hire a car and driver when required. And it’s cheaper.
Finding a car and driver is not a problem in the main towns of Goa – they will find you. If you’d prefer to rent through a business, head to any travel agency (Car Rentals) or ask your hotel. The typical cost for a day of sightseeing in a chauffeur-driven car, depending on distance and what sort of car it is, ranges from Rs. 600 to Rs. 1000.
If you decide to choose the self-drive option, private agents generally charge around Rs. 900 (for 24 hours) or around Rs. 6300 per week for a basic car without air-con. The same car with a driver will cost around Rs. 750 for an eight-hour day.
Taxis in Goa:Getting around Goa by Taxis
If you love doing things in style, taxis are the best option. Most taxis in Goa don't go by the meter. If taxis do not have meters, you must decide the fare beforehand. If you feel you are being duped, do not have any qualms about arguing.
Moreover, you are expected to have some knowledge of the "official fare". If you are carrying luggage, your fare will be more. In any case, you should use your negotiation skills to strike the right deal.
Buses in Goa:Getting around Goa by Buses
Bus travel in Goa is cheap and enjoyable. A ride on a bus is a unique experience as it gives you the real feel of the Goa. You can take in the rich sights on your travel.
Most of the roads in Goa are motorable which makes bus travel easy.
Buses in Goa are operated both by the state and private corporations. The Kadamba Transport Corporation (KTC) is the state government's bus service. KTC shuttles are best for travelling between the hubs. You can board these buses from any major tourist location in Goa. But you ought to know the timings to avoid being stranded.
Train in Goa:Getting around Goa by Train
Goa has two railways. The South Central Railway has its terminus in Mormugao (past Vasco da Gama) and runs due east, through Margao and into Karnataka. This line is often used by tourists day-tripping to Dudhsagar Falls in the east of the state, and travelers heading towards Hampi in Karnataka (the nearest station is at Hospet).
The Konkan Railway runs from Mumbai (Bombay) to Mangalore (in Karnataka) through Goa. It’s unlikely that you’ll use the train much for travel within Goa given the ease and economy of bus travel. However, trains may be useful if you’re planning to travel Goa from one end of the state to the other, i.e. Arambol to Palolem, which would otherwise require at least three changes by bus. Thivim (Mapusa Rd) are not particularly convenient for the beaches, but in the south, Canacona station is only 3km from Palolem beach.
Konkan Railway stations in Goa, from north to south, are: Pernem (for Arambol), Thivim (for Mapusa), Karmali (for Old Goa and Panaji), Verna, Margao (for Colva and Benaulim), Bali, Barcem and Canacona (for Palolem).
Ferries in Goa:Getting around Goa by Ferries
Flat-bottomed ferries are Goa's predominant mode of transport. One of the joys of traveling around Goa is joining locals on flat-bottomed passenger-vehicle ferries that cross the state’s many rivers.
Ferries have been commuting people across waters for decades, but services are gradually being put out of business by massive bridge-building projects, the most recent being the ominous Aldona-Corjeum bridge.
These blue-painted hulks are cheap and run from early morning till late evening. The most frequented river crossings in Goa are Panaji to Betim, across the Mandovi (every 15 minutes); Old Goa to Divar Island (every 15 minutes); Querim to Terekhol over Tiracol river (every 30 minutes) and Cavelossim to Assolna (every 20 to 30 minutes)
More great destinations can be found in the Explore India page.