Below are some useful tips for those of you visiting Goa.
Take Photocopies of Important Documents & Bring Passport Sized Photos
It’s always very handy to have copies of your passport incase you lose it, but also because many hotels and hostels require a copy. Many won’t have a photocopier on the premises and will have to take your passport away, so if you have your own copies it means you’re less likely to have to give up your passport. We suggest full colour copies and make sure your photo shows up well. If you are using your own inkjet printer/scanner make sure to set it to the mode that copies photos rather than text.
Getting a local Goan SIM Card
Having a local SIM Card in Goa makes it a lot easier to keep intouch with people, call local hotels and taxis, etc. Plus internet charges are a lot less in India than most people’s roaming charges. However in India there is often a form that needs to be filled out in advance before you are allowed to apply for a SIM Card. These forms usually require a passport photo, so to save time you might want to bring several photos with you, as well as photocopies of your passports, visa, etc.
Attending a Goan Wedding
If you get the chance to attend a traditional Goan wedding whilst in Goa, go for it. They’re usually very colourful occasions with lots of food and music. Usually at such events it’s the more the merrier. Plus the weather in Goa is usually so predictable that weddings often take place outdoors.
Holi is a Hindu spring festival, also known as the “festival of colours”. It signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. This is a time in March when people throw coloured powdered dye at each other. If you’re walking down the street in Goa when this takes place you might well find yourself covered. Take note, this dye will not wash off, so wear clothes you’re happy to get covered in colour. Also beware of items like phones and cameras that can be ruined by such dyes, best to take extra plastic bags to wrap things up in.
Food in Goa
Goa has hundreds, if not thousands of places to eat to suit all pockets. From fine dining to street food sellers. As with many parts of Asia, most people would recommend you only drink bottle water to stay safe and also avoid ice cubes in your drink as these are most likely made from tap water.
Ordering minced dishes in Goa
If you are in a hurry then be wary of ordering dishes that are made using minced meat. Several times in Goa we have found that many restaurants do not own a mincing machine. And if you order a dish that is made using minced meat, such as kebabs the kitchen staff will begin mincing meat by hand using a knife. This takes a very long time to take a solid piece of meat and turn it into mince, you’ll often here a lot of chopping noises coming from the kitchen that seem to last forever.
Past experiences in Goa we’ve had of ordering food that requires the use of minced meat have resulted in a minimum of 40 minutes wait (even though we were told 15 minutes initially).
Beach shacks in Goa
The shacks on the beach often provide amazing food. But it often takes a lot of trial and error to find the shacks that provide good food and even then it could depend on the time of day when different chefs take over the cooking. Some shacks have their own kitchen and some send your order to a nearby house where the food is then cooked.
Street food in Goa
There’s isn’t that many street food sellers in Goa but usually enough to supply local demand. Often the street sellers provide some of the best meals.
Using electrical devices in Goa
After many visits to Goa where officially the voltages are supposed to be similar to what is used in Europe, I’d say be very careful of your expensive electrical devices. Every single device I plugged into the mains electricity in Goa ran very hot. Personally I would recommend if you have an expensive mobile phone you buy a USB power bank before you arrive in Goa and use that to charge your phone. Then when the power bank goes flat you charge that from the mains – that way you’re only risking your power bank, rather than you’re much more expensive mobile phone. We’d also recommend you only buy power banks made out of plastic not metal, as in the past we’ve had electric shocks touching things made out of metal in Goa when connected to the mains. Also getting one with a built in torch is a very good idea.
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Door locks in Goa
Be very careful if you are staying in a place / hotel room in Goa with sliding door locks. A lot of these doors can simply be locked from the outside by a passerby which means you can be trapped in your room. Some smarter owners have doors with two locking positions, one to lock the door closed with a padlock and another to lock it open.
Mothballs in Goa
A lot of people in Goa seem to go overboard with their use of mothballs. Mothballs work by giving off a toxic gas (naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene) which kills moths and moth larvae. However some people seem to open an entire packet of mothballs and they often look like sweets to small children. Be in no doubt that mothballs are a poison. Also we’ve never seen this reported in India but certainly in other parts of Asia tourists have died sleeping in hotel and hostel beds that were spray with insecticides to kill bed bugs. If you are staying in a new room and it doesn’t smell right be wary.