Some people love the cold, the snow and the magical scenery of the mountains, others prefer the sun, the sea and the warmth. For the latter, here's our tip for avoiding at least some of the dark and cold days of winter: visit the state of Goa on the west coast of South India, full of beautiful nature, breathtaking waterfalls and delicious cuisine.
The ideal time to visit the smallest (but most economically powerful) union state is at the turn of the year. Which, at roughly 15 degrees north latitude, means temperatures between 20 (in the morning) and 30 °C. The temperature of the Arabian Sea washing over 100 kilometres of beaches tends to be around 26 °C.
On arrival at the airport in Dabolim, near the second largest city of Vasco da Gama, which is 29 kilometres south of the metropolis of Panaji (Punjab), it is a good idea to avoid all the 'chasers'. There is a reliable system of pre-paid taxis with fixed prices depending on where you are heading. You pay in advance and then just tip the taxi driver according to your level of satisfaction.
There is a place for everyone to stay. You can stay on the beach or a short distance from it, in a hotel complex or individual rooms rented by private owners in small houses. In general, the northern part is more bustling, the southern part is quieter.
Old Goa is definitely worth a visit, with its Catholic churches and cathedrals, where Christian pilgrims flock from all over India. The flea market in Anjuna is a popular destination for souvenir shopping, and quirky Hindu architecture can be found in the hinterland around Ponda.
Nature lovers will appreciate the Cotigao Reserve in the very south, and the Dudhsagar Falls should definitely not be missed. These can be found on the eastern border with the state of Karnataka in the Western Ghats and, at 600 metres, are among the highest in India. The only way to get here is on foot or, more commonly, by jeep from the village of Colem. The last bit has to be walked, so sturdier footwear is advisable.
The reward is a breathtaking view of the Mandovi River rushing down the steep slopes into a dark green pool where you can take a dip. Directly above the waterfall is an old stone viaduct, which is still sometimes used by trains.
The fortress of Cabo da Rama, the sunset in Palolem, the fish market in Chaudí... There are certainly a huge number of places to recommend, but in the age of the internet, you can certainly find more information on what to visit and discover according to your preferences.
As far as prices are concerned, it is true that one can bargain very successfully in stalls or markets. In shops, the so-called MRP (maximum retail price) is usually marked on the goods. This means that the goods are sent from the manufacturer to the shop with the final retail price of the item (including all taxes) printed on the packaging. This protects customers from being charged a higher price or additional fee by the retailer when making a purchase.
In restaurants, kiosks and pubs, prices naturally vary according to the location of the business. They can be vastly different between a beach bar and a local bar, for example.
In addition to fish and poultry dishes, you can also enjoy excellent pork and beef dishes. The local language is Konkani, but most people also speak English.
As far as alcohol is concerned, it is worth mentioning that the local whiskies are not bad at all. Old Monk rum is also interesting.
However, a very widespread and popular drink is feni. This is made from either cashew bushes or the sap of coconut palms. Cashew feni is more widespread as the production of coconut feni is considerably more labour intensive. Regular establishments will, of course, pour you industrially produced spirits, but a closer survey of local bars will reveal home-brewed liquor. And it's much more affordable, although it must be said that local taprooms are downright cheap for Westerners.
As far as beer is concerned, bottled or canned beers prevail in the vast majority of places. The most widespread is the local Kingfisher in several variants, but also popular are "europiles" such as Carlsberg, Tuborg or Heineken. Prices vary again, of course – a beach bar will definitely be more expensive than liquor stores, i.e. shops licensed to sell alcohol. The latter are also obliged to respect the MRP. It follows from the above that beer drinkers shouldn't expect any paradise here.
Due to its good tourist infrastructure, lack of slums and not many beggars, Goa has earned the nickname "India for beginners". One could even work from home here at very low prices from early November to mid-April. If you don’t need to be present in the workplace on a daily basis, it might be worth considering whether, with current energy prices, it might be better to "turn off the boiler" at home for the winter and go on an adventure.