in the middle
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Cut off from the rest of the country, Goa is a laid-back Indian state like no other. The centuries of Portuguese influence have left their mark in the gently crumbling architecture of Vasco de Gama and Old Goa, and in the delicious Goan cuisine. However Goa's real appeal is its beaches. All 62 palm-fringed golden miles of them.
Expect a slow pace of life - the locals take a daily two-hour siesta! Get into the groove with relaxing days at the beach and gentle exploration of the sights and natural attractions after you arrive on your flight to Goa. A recent tourism influx has meant that some of the beaches that used to be known for their hippy vibe are now a bit more built up. But whether you're after a convenient package holiday, luxurious relaxation or a backpacking budget adventure there will be somewhere that's just right for you.
A cheap flight to Goa will always be a sought-after thing, so if you see a great deal make sure you snap it up and head off to enjoy the sunshine, the sand and the beauty of this part of the world.
Once your cheap flight to India is in the bag all that's left is to choose which of the resorts you'll stay at. Anjuna, Baga Beach, Calangute Beach, Palolem and Colva are some of the most popular, and all have a great choice of Goa hotels and stunning beaches to pick from.
Old Goa was once a city of great splendour and home to a population of hundreds of thousands. But today it's almost derelict and most definitely a place to visit rather than stay! If you want to see further afield your best bet is to book a hire car to take yourself around.
Goa has gone from a destination only visited by hippies and long-term travellers, to a popular mainstream holiday destination in around 20 years, and we don't see its status as a sought-after beach holiday destination changing in 2017 or 2018. That means there are more and more Goa flights available, and therefore the chances of getting cheap flight to Goa are high.
If you're flying to Goa you'll land at Goa's only international airport, Diabolim in Vasco da Gama. Lots of airlines fly there, most transit in Mumbai, but there are some charter flights that go direct. You can depart from several UK cities, in adition to London you can now find scheduled and charter flights to Goa from Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.
Residents of the UK travelling to India will need to obtain a Visa before departing. An online application form can be filled out here.
You have a choice of travel options from the airport when your flight to Goa arrives, but first things first - check whether your holiday resort offers free transfers! Many do, and as the word free is music to our ears, it's something we always look for on holiday! Other options for onward travel after arriving in Goa on your flight are:
Pre-paid taxis These have their own pre-paid booth just outside arrivals and are the cheapest way of getting a direct transfer to your hotel or resort.
Metered taxi Also available at the airport, remember to check that the meter is on! Expect to pay slightly more than for a pre-paid taxi.
Buses Public buses go to Vasco de Gama, the nearest city to the airport, as well as a nearer stop in smaller Chicalmin. At both of these you can catch a choice of onward buses for a very reasonable fee.
Trains Trains take you to Vasco de Gama, from where you can travel on to Margao in South Goa and Tivim in North Goa as well as to Carambolim and Ponda.
Car Hire You could also hire your own car, although it can often be better to arrange this on a daily basis at your hotel unless you're planning on exploring every day.
The Kadamba bus company runs services around Goa and is easily the cheapest mode of transport. However the most common form of transport amongst locals and travellers alike is scooter. Scooters can be hired relatively cheaply and offer a greater degree of flexibility. They are widely available and should cost around Rs 300 during peak season and substantially less in off season. It'll be a lot less nippy, but you can also hire a car in Goa if you prefer. Taxis can also be booked for travelling between towns and for trips further afield. Expect to pay Rs 1500 per day for taxi hire. In town, taxis, motorcycle taxis and autorickshaws are the most prevalent form of transport.
There are interstate buses to the cities of Mumbai, Mangalore and Bangalore. These are generally run by private operators and you can opt for sleeper buses if you are travelling overnight. But to get the real exprience of travelling in India you should take the train! The Konkan Railway runs north to Mumbai and South to Mangalore from Margao station. Trains can book out in advance so it's wise to get tickets as early as possible. This applies especially in the case of sleeper trains. Tickets can be bought in advance at the station or online at Konkan Railway.
When it comes to arranging your Goa flights, the climate is something that you should consider, as with any trip to India. But festivals can also affect the price of your stay too - not to mention the experience you'll get from your Goa trip!
Goa has three main seasons: The cool season from October to January, the hot season from February to July and the monsoon season from August to September. Don't be misled by the "cool season" - temperatures are typically around 25°C, in fact, this is the most popular time to book a flight to Goa.
Expect temperatures in the hot season to push upwards of 30°C, so if you like the heat this can be a great time to get a bargain price on your Goa flight. Looking in late February to mid-March can be a great compromise on flight time and heat level, so it's our pick for the best time to visit. Don't shout about it though, or everyone will want to go then!
If you're looking to spend plenty of time at the beaches and in the sea, bear in mind that the sea around Goa can be dangerous - especially during the monsoon season. The safe swimming season is November to May, but even at this time it's important to be vigilant, as even in April and May the seas begin to get choppier. Stick to places with other people in the water, and steer clear of river mouth areas.
Whilst most tourists avoid travelling to Goa during the monsoon, this is a great time to go see the countryside at its most green and fertile, you'll also have the resorts completely to yourself.
Prices fluctuate enormously throughout the course of the year and can differ by a factor of two between the peak season between November and March and the off season during the monsoon. Prices of holidays to Goa peak between Christmas and New Year, and you'll need to book your hotel many in advance.
As with the rest of India, festivals in Goa are an integral part of day to day life and getting to experience one can really add an extra something to your holiday in 2017 or 2018. Because of the Portuguese influence Christian festivals are celebrated along with Hindu - which gives you extra throughout the year. Diwali and Christmas are high points, the Goa Carnival in February attracts plenty of visitors with it's colourful floats and music.
Some of the state's biggest and best celebrations mark the monsoon period. The Feast of St Anthony and the Feast of St John herald the coming of the rains and the Feast of St Lawrence marks the start of the dry seasons. But without a doubt the most delicious festival, and something that's worth booking a flight to Goa alone, is the Goa Food and Cultural Festival held in November.
Indian Rupees. Money can be changed at the Reserve Bank of India in Panjim, which offers perhaps the best exchange rates in Goa. However, high numbers of tourists mean that money can be exchanged in bigger hotels as well as travel agents and some shops across Goa.
Konkani is the common spoken language of Goa whilst Hindi and English are the languages of business and the press. Most secondary and tertiary education in Goa is in English so it is widely spoken, though this varies vastly between resorts, urban and rural areas.
The dialling code for Goa is (0)832. If you're calling from outside India, this will need to be prefixed by +91, so the full code is +91832
Goa is not known for dangerous or violent crime but visitors should be aware of pickpockets. There have been plenty of stories of people having money taken from their rooms, especially in Anjuna. Be sure to leave any valuables in hotel safes.
Women should exercise some discretion with regards to dress codes on beaches, as there have been numerous reports of women getting hassled. Topless sunbathing especially is not advised.
There is a low risk of malaria in Goa. As a general rule if you're staying on the coast you are less at risk, but anti-malarials are still recommended by the National Travel Health Network and Centre. You should consult a doctor or travel clinic about anti-malarials and other vaccinations before you leave as well as taking measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes whilst you're in Goa.
Visas are required for all UK citizens travelling to India. An online application form can be filled out here.