Goa Travel Blog: The moment we alighted and made it to our stay, I knew I’d be visiting Goa again. Some say there isn’t much to Goa apart from its Churches, beaches, and party vibes. Some keep coming back to it. India has numerous places with great beaches. Yet Goa holds its head high among them all.
When I visited Goa, I realized there’s so much more to Goa than its beaches. The state it is today hasn’t bloomed over time; it has always been this way among tourists. I’d compare it to the Bali of Indonesia. I visited Goa in the winter of 2022. Here’s all about my Goa travel blog.
Goa travel blog: Getting there from Bangalore
Bangalore is 560 km from Goa. While a drive to the coastal line is a sweet option, getting around Goa with a car can be a hassle. From Bangalore, the best budget option to get to Goa is via the sleeper coach bus or train.
By train, keep your itinerary planned weeks ahead as it’s difficult to get tickets at the last minute. Goa has two main stations, Vasco Da Gama and Margao with Vasco being the bigger of the two. Book your train tickets either via the official IRCTC website or a 3rd party site. It costs around Rs. 380 for a one-way sleeper coach.
We booked our sleeper coach tickets both ways, back and forth in Bangalore. We made it to Vasco Da Gama Railway station at 5 am and the platforms were already bustling with people. As local buses begin operating at 7 am, not wanting to waste time, we boarded a private bus for Rs. 100 per head that dropped us off at the Panjim Bus Stand (28 km from Vasco).
If you aren’t too worried about your budget and wish to spend time efficiently, I’d highly recommend booking a cab. Local buses get the work done but take a LOT of time to get to your destination and get congested often.
While Goa has no restrictions for tourists with cars, a road trip from Bangalore is simply unnecessary. Goan roads are narrow in most places and make it inconvenient for cars. Thus instead of your own car, get to Goa either by train/bus. Getting there by flight is also another option.
Goa Travel Blog: Bargaining Scooters to Get Around
Unlike Ooty where rental cars are banned due to frequent accidents on the sleek curvy roads, Goan roads rush with rental scooters.
Staying in Arambol, we found a sweet guy ‘Lorenz’ who rented out 3 new scooters, Yamaha Fascino 125s, he had with valid documentation and rental plates. He initially claimed it would be a flat Rs. 400 per scooter as they were new. Since we were getting 3 of them, we agreed to rent them all for 1000. A good deal if you ask me.
Now about scooters, Goa has abundant sources of car and scooter rentals. Most accommodations you visit, even some restaurants offer scooter rentals. Keep a few things in mind before renting one.
Most require you to return the scooter back to the pickup point. So it’s best to get your rental vehicle close to your accommodation where you’ll return. Staying in Arambol, we got scooters the first evening to explore Vagator and Anjuna Beach.
Make sure to get your driving license as well as an original identity card like a passport, Aadhar, or PAN card. The vehicle owner holds the ID as a lateral when you rent it out. Pick it up when you return the vehicle.
Regarding cops and safety, one helmet is usually provided per scooter. Unlike Bangalore, you need not have a helmet for the pillion rider here.
While most places offer scooter rentals, some offer motorcycles too. If I’d found one, I’d have no doubt gone for it!
Best time to Visit Goa
The best time to visit Goa is from November to February. These are the months that aren’t actual summers here. Goa being on the tropical coastal end, it’s humid throughout. From the months of March to May, it’s the summer but it also gets extremely hot during these months.
The months of November to February are sunny while being cool compared to the other months.
We visited in the November of 2022. With these months being popular for the climate and party season, there were crowds flocking off the train when we arrived and the roads jammed at night.
Lucky for us, we stayed at Arambol, North Goa which was comparatively remote and offbeat compared to the rest of Goa.
Goa Travel Blog: Budget Hostels
In India, I’ve personally loved some backpacker hostels on HostelWorld.com and initiatives like Zostels for travelers. But we didn’t intend on staying on separate dormitory beds as we were a group of friends. We got a homestay of sorts.
When we arrived in Arambol, we had a hustle with the accommodation and its staff. Though we had booked it prior to our stay, the reception told us there were no rooms currently available and we’d have to wait till the afternoon.
Though weary with the luggage and travel, we decided to look for offline homestays around close to the beach. And voila, we found one!
For budget stays, don’t keep your hopes high when you book online. You’ll know when the prices are too good for the amenities offered. Booking.com is great to book your accommodation without upfront payment. Check out the stay before you check in.
My Stay Recommendation in Goa
My favorite sites to book stays in India are Booking.com and HostelWorld for distinct reasons. Booking.com allows us to book without having to pay upfront booking fees. We can check out the stay and pay on spot.
HostelWorld, on the other hand offers its best hostels that have been selected carefully for backpackers and solo travelers. Though we do need to pay upfront on HostelWorld, all stays here are carefully selected. Thus HostelWorld ultimately maintaining its reputation with its quality stays.
Goa is full of resorts and backpacker hostels for all kinds of price ranges. For mid-range stays and not too far from citt center, the most affordable rates for accommodation are around Anjuna, Calangute, Vagator, and Morjim. Here are some I handpicked out for you based on pricing.
Resorts in Anjuna, Calangute, and, Vagator (Rs. 1400 – Rs. 5000)
Backpackers Hostels in Calangute, Anjuna, Vagator (Rs. 450 – Rs. 700)
- goStops Goa
- Piggy Calangute by Urban Nomads
- Dreams Hostel (HostelWorld)
- Wonderland Hostel (HostelWorld)
- Travo Tales (Morjim)
- Bunkd Hostel (HostelWorld)
As I stayed in Arambol, I witnessed hippie culture being prevalent in this remote part of North Goa. Though far from the city, it’s a paradise once you get there. And there are literally tons of dead cheap places to pick from here!
Keep in mind Arambol is best suited for backpackers rather than families. Here are some of my favorite traveler hostels from HostelWorld:
My Goa Travel Blog
The only downside to our Goa visit was we weren’t traveling, we were on vacation. We barely visited a handful of places and stuck to the comforts of the beach nearby, drinks, and evening strolls around. To add to it, we stayed for only 3 days in Goa.
Day 1: Getting off at Vasco Da Gama St.
The first day was a hectic travel day. The train journey from Yeshwantpur Junction, Bangalore to Vasco Da Gama Station, Goa had no hitches. It was a peaceful overnight journey. Since it was the start of the day and had time in hand, we decided to take the local bus to where we were staying – Arambol.
Till Panjim, we got on a private bus as there were no local buses available at 6:00 am. From Panjim’s local bus stand close to the bridges, we got on a local bus passing through Arambol. It cost us no more than Rs. 160 per person to get to Arambol.
Now the bad news? The time we took for the trip was debatable. We got there close to noon. Not to mention – the bus being suffocative and crowded like chicken poultry. For long distances, cabs are preferable. That’s the first thing we learned.
Luck would have it, our booked stay was ‘booked out’ due to the management’s fault, we took an hour to find ourselves a place and settle down our bags. We found a cozy spot for ourselves stowed in the alleys of Arambol barely a minute’s walk away from the beach.
I’d best recommend staying close to the beach. With Arambol being a far-off village, it’s quite affordable. For budget backpackers and solo travelers, here are some sweet places that I picked out for you on Booking.com.
Chapora Fort, Anjuna Beach, and Drinks for the evening
With the afternoon heat and little travel fatigue, we resorted to resting at our stay after lunch. In the evening, we rented out scooters and took off to the infamous Dil Chahta Hai fort.
With Arambol being a far-off North end, most places to visit in Goa were far off. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the fort only to find out it would close soon (at 5 pm). So we quickly parked the scooters and raced up the hill.
The 400 years old walls were one thing, the sunset view from the point was another. We found a sweet spot overlooking the beach and sunset and were just in time to witness its beauty.
When dusk fell, we decided to check out the nearest flea market. The Anjuna Flea Market. We didn’t know at the time that it’s best to visit on Wednesdays for the actual early flea market. Still, we strolled a good while through the permanent stalls here.
The flea market and Anjuna Beach go hand in hand. We heard waves in a distance and followed it through dark alleys, sand, and unevenly built cement steps down to the beach. We walked quite a long distance by the waves and the line of beach bars and fancy restaurants.
The night beach, as they’ve popularized Goa about, is quite the same. It’s a party hub alright. There’s loud music, lights blazing the night sky ultimately overpowering the sounds of waves washing ashore. The night sky’s stars were nowhere to be seen with all the light pollution.
We didn’t plan on spending a whole lot on fancy dining. So we returned late back to Arambol with liquor. It was cheap. It’s Goa after all :)
Day 2: Beach Walk and Arambol Sweet Lake
There wasn’t much we had planned for the day. We were exhausted from the previous day. With the hangover, most of us slept a couple of hours extra. I did, however, take an early morning walk on the Arambol beach.
The waters were calm. Unlike the night’s party animals, people at the same beach now were simply there for the waves and the quietness. They waved good morning at one another.
After a millionth attempt of convincing me, I finally gave in to the cheeky girl, my friend who’d planned the whole trip. She wished to check out Sweet Water Lake.
So we walked in the afternoon’s burning sand past clothing stalls on the shore edges, past a trail of large sharp rocks. And voila it was there! One of Arambol’s must-visit is the sweet water lake.
It’s a small trail away from the village. Unlike the beach waters, the water remains cool even in the heat. Sitting in the shallow waters, there were tiny fishes that swam around us. We spent the whole afternoon here relaxing under the coconut shades and cool water.
We didn’t do much towards the evening either. I had a Japanese class to attend on my laptop and the others took a dip in the waters.
Walking the Arambol beach at night is quite a wholesome experience. Most are non-Indians greeting and conversing with strangers, singing and dancing through the night. We even saw a couple of fire performances lighting the dark beachside.
Day 3: Watersports!
That cheeky girl who’d taken us to the sweet water lake? She’d arranged a day for watersports prior to our arrival. I personally was hesitant with the low price and the promising watersports they offered which included ‘scuba diving’.
As was my reluctance, the ‘scuba diving’ they had advertised, they did get us the scuba tank on our backs alright. Except we didn’t go far deep from the water’s surface. There were no more than a couple of fish swimming around the not-so-clear water. And it lasted no more than a few minutes.
Apart from scuba diving, parasailing along with hard dips into the waters was my favorite. The other activities included banana boat riding and jet skiing. From someone who’s lived on a tropical island in Indonesia for almost a decade, I was jaded about most of it.
It was, however, with some of my closest friends and that’s what made it all fun. We didn’t get any pictures of having all our belongings stowed away in lockers.
However, we did pay for scuba diving shots. But let’s just say they weren’t good enough to be up here on this blog.
We returned from the place early after lunch. After taking a shower, we all headed out to the beach one last evening. It was our last day in Goa!
Our last evening was again by the beach. We also spent a good while roaming the small alleys of Arambol. I’d met an Arambol resident, Sanjaysitting in his tiny reception (a shed of sorts) for stay bookings the previous day. He had a guitar behind him which led me to play it in his shed while customers went in and out.
Later in the afternoon, we’d gone into a deep conversation about how we look at lives, how most free minds look at lives. What makes us different from them? He was in his mid-50s with grey facial hair styled like most locals here, yet had a distinct touch to his features.
Before I left, I met him again and felt at home for a second. I guess that’s why people keep coming back to Arambol, Goa. It’s the people. The aura. I’m definitely not missing out on Arambol on my next Goa visit. We got pictures with our homestay owners as well.
While returning, we took the cab back to Vasco Da Gama. There wasn’t a way we’d take the local bus again. Neither did we have the energy, nor the time. It took almost a couple of hours with the evening traffic, and we were thankful the driver made it on time.
Goa Travel Blog: Tailpiece
That sums up my Goa travel blog – my experience of Goa. We did miss out on some major things to do in Goa. Things that we could’ve fit in our 3-day itinerary if we’d planned it better.
But we were looking for a vacation more than anything. If I visit Goa again (which I hopefully will), I’m traveling places. Having been there, I shall be writing more posts on guides and itineraries to Goa.
This is, anyhow, how my first trip to Goa went. That ends my Goa travel blog.
Happy traveling :)