There are no internal flights within Goa.
Goa offers plenty of variety for cycling, certainly in the village back lanes. A bicycle can also be a convenient and ecofriendly way of getting around beach towns.
At most beach resorts in Goa you'll find people who are prepared to rent out a local, Indian-made, single-gear rattler, though mountain bikes are sometimes also available. Expect to pay around ₹50 to ₹150 per day.
For a longer stay of three months or more in Goa, consider buying a bicycle locally. Basic Indian road bikes (including Hero, Atlas, BSA and Raleigh) are available at bicycle shops in cities from ₹3500 and mountain bikes from ₹4000. You should be able to pick up a second-hand bike for ₹1000 to ₹1500.
If you want a quality machine for serious touring, bring your own, along with spare parts and accessories and a very strong bike lock.
Local ferries cross a number of creeks and rivers, but there are no long-distance ferry routes within Goa.
One of the joys of day tripping in Goa is a short ride on one of the state’s few remaining vehicle/passenger ferries, which, until the recent addition of road bridges spanning Goa’s wide and wonderful rivers, formed a crucial means of transport for locals. Most ferries run every half hour or so (busy routes run non-stop) from around 7am to 10pm. The ferries are free to pedestrians and two-wheelers.
- An extensive network of buses shuttle to and from almost every tiny town and village, though the main hubs are Panaji, Margao and Mapusa. Travelling between north and south Goa you'll generally need to change buses at Margao, Panaji or both.
- There are no timetables, but buses are frequent and usually have the destination posted (in English and Konkani) in the front window. Fares range from ₹5 to ₹40.
- Local buses are mostly old rustbuckets and can be slow – stopping frequently to drop off or pick up passengers. Between Panaji and Margao or Mapusa, look for the faster 'express' buses.
Car & Motorcycle
- It’s easy in Goa to organise a private car with a driver (or simply a taxi) for long-distance day trips. Expect to pay from ₹2000 for a full day out on the road (usually defined as eight hours and 80km).
- Self-drive hire cars start from from ₹1100 per day for a small car to upwards of ₹4500 for a large 4WD, excluding fuel and usually with a per kilometre limit. Your best bet for rentals is online at sites such as www. goa2u.com.
- Familiarise yourself with road signs: on Goa’s major NH66 national highway there are varying speed limits for different types of vehicle.
- You won't find the likes of Avis, Hertz etc in Goa but check out sites such as Vailankanni Car Hire (www.goacars.in) and Urban Drive (www.urbandrive.co.in).
You’ll rarely go far on a Goan road without seeing a local or tourist whizzing by on a scooter or motorbike, and renting one is, in theory, a breeze. You’ll likely pay from ₹200 to ₹400 per day for a scooter, ₹400 to ₹500 for a smaller Yamaha motorbike (relatively rare), and ₹400 to ₹800 for a Royal Enfield Bullet, depending on supply and demand. Prices can drop considerably if you’re renting for more than a few days or if it’s an off-peak period – bargain if there are lots of machines around.
If you want to book a bike in advance try www.ziphop.in.
An international driving permit is now considered mandatory, certainly as far as local police looking to extract 'fines' are concerned. The first thing a policeman will want to see if he stops you is your licence, and an international permit is incontrovertible. Permits are available from your home automobile association. In any case, it must be accompanied by your home drivers licence. Although you should be able to ride an automatic scooter with only a car licence and international permit, Goan police may try to fine you for not having a 'two-wheeler' licence.
The bottom line, though, is that even if you don't have the correct documents, as long as you pay up you'll generally be allowed to ride on. Claiming not to have any cash on you is a good start at bargaining down the fine.
Fuel & Spare Parts
- Though subject to change, at the time of research unleaded petrol cost around ₹70 per litre.
- Distances are generally short and small bikes (such as the Honda Kinetic or Activa) are very economical – at least 30km per litre.
- There are increasing numbers of petrol stations in main towns including Panaji, Margao, Mapusa, Ponda and Vasco da Gama. There are also busy pumps near Vagator, Palolem and Arambol.
- Where there are no petrol pumps, general stores sell petrol by the litre (usually in recycled water bottles at ₹80 to ₹100); be aware that sometimes petrol in plastic bottles has been diluted with kerosene.
- Before hiring a bike, ensure that the fuel gauge, indicators and horn all work.
Hiring a motorcycle in Goa is easy and cheap enough. Owners will probably find you, and are more often than not decent guys who are just looking to make a bit of cash on the side. Another option is to ask at your hotel or guesthouse.
- Private bike owners are not technically allowed to rent out a machine, so if you are stopped by the police for any reason, your hirer would prefer that you say you have borrowed it from a ‘friend’.
- Make sure registration papers are in the bike – it gives the police one less argument against you.
- Touring bike companies include www.classic-bike-india.com or check out www.rentabike.in.
- At the base of the scale are the most popular rental bikes – gearless scooters such as the 100cc Honda Kinetics, Activa or Bajaj scooters. They are extremely practical and easy to ride. You should only need a car driving licence to ride these bikes, but Goan police may say otherwise.
- Next up are the 100cc and 135cc bikes – Yamaha being the most common. Fuel economy is good, they go faster than a Kinetic, and are more comfortable over long distances. You’ll need a motorcycle licence and some riding experience.
- At the top of the pile are the classic thumping Enfield Bullets, made in India since the 1950s. They are far less fuel-friendly, require more maintenance than the others, are heavy and take a little getting used to – but they provide the ultimate street cred. Most Enfields available for hire are 350cc, but there are also some 500cc models around.
Costs & Practicalities
- Outside of the high season you can get a scooter for as little as ₹150 per day. During high season (December to February) the standard rate is ₹250 to ₹400 (up to double that over the Christmas peak).
- In season expect to pay from ₹400 for a 100cc bike and up to ₹700 for an Enfield.
- The longer you hire a bike (and the older it is), the cheaper it becomes.
- Make absolutely sure that you agree with the owner about the price. Clarify whether one day is 24 hours, and that you won’t be asked to pay extra for keeping it overnight.
- You may be asked to pay cash up front; get a written receipt.
- Always get the mobile phone number of the owner in case something goes wrong with the bike; this works both ways.
- Take note of any damage, dings or scratches when you hire and write them down or take a snapshot of the bike so the owner won't accuse you of causing it. Conversely, you'll be expected to pay up for any damage you cause.
- Before you go, check that your travel insurance covers you for motorcycle riding.
On the Road
Road Conditions & Safety
Goan roads can be treacherous, filled with human, bovine, canine, feline, mechanical and avian obstacles, as well as a good sprinkling of potholes and hairpin bends.
- Be on the lookout for ‘speed breakers’. Speed humps are stand-alone back breakers or come in triplets. They can be hard to spot, especially at night.
- Take it slowly, try not to drive at night (country lanes are poorly lit), and don’t attempt a north–south day trip on a scooter.
- Goa’s main NH66 is a highway in name only – single lane and congested in parts. However, the new north-south multilane bypass will open in stages from late 2019.
- Driving is on the left, vehicles give way to the right and road signs are universal pictorial signs.
- Helmets are mandatory for two-wheelers in Goa though many riders continue to ignore this away from the main highway. You can be pulled over and fined for not wearing one and the safety implications are obvious.
- At busy intersections, traffic police are often on hand to reduce the chaos. Otherwise, make good use of your horn.
- Speed limits range from 30km/h to 60km/h. The blood alcohol limit is 0.03% – the equivalent of just one standard drink for most people. Police are increasingly using 'alcometers' at traffic stops and the penalties for being drunk at the wheel can be severe.
- The highway code in India can be reduced to one essential truth – ‘Might is Right’ – meaning the bigger the vehicle, the more priority you’re accorded. Motorbikes sit only above bicycles and pedestrians on the food chain.
An autorickshaw (also called an auto, three-wheeler or, outside of India, a tuk-tuk) is the quintessential Indian short-hop form of transport, a yellow-and-black three-wheeled contraption powered by a noisy two-stroke motorcycle engine. It's about a third cheaper than a taxi and generally a better option for short trips – count on a minimum ₹50 for a short journey and ₹150 for a slightly longer one.
Flag down an autorickshaw and negotiate the fare before you jump in; if the driver’s charging too much, try another.
Goa is the only place in India where motorcycle taxis, known as ‘pilots’, are a licensed form of transport. They're identified by a yellow front mudguard and, although not as common as they used to be, you'll still find them at Panaji, Mapusa and Margao and they'll magically appear at markets or parties when demand is high. They cost half the price of a taxi.
Taxis are widely available for town-hopping, but the local union cartel means prices are often ridiculously high, especially at night and more so around expensive hotels. A day’s sightseeing, depending on the distance, is likely to be around ₹1500 to ₹2500. Agree on a price beforehand.
An initiative by Goa Tourism is the Women's Taxi Service, with female drivers, phone-only bookings and only women, couples or families accepted as passengers. The vehicles are fitted with accurate meters and GPS monitoring, and the drivers are trained in first aid and self-defence. Fares can even be paid with a credit card. The problem is that there aren't enough cars/drivers to make this a reliable service.
Ridesharing services such as Uber and Ola are banned in Goa, partly due to the powerful taxi unions and partly because the state government wanted a piece of the action. The latest Goa Tourism transport initiative is Goa Miles (www.goamiles.com), a taxi smartphone app that works much like Uber. Launched in late 2018, the service is still in its infancy, although it claimed to have 300 cars on the road.
Since the service is (at least for now) subsidised by the government, the fares are roughly half what you would pay a taxi driver off the street (closer to the fares charged at the airport prepaid counter). For example, a small car from Panaji to Arambol costs just ₹900. Another advantage is security, as the drivers are registered, the cars can be tracked and the cars themselves are modern and clean. Since you use your credit card to book the ride, no money changes hands with the driver. A major disadvantage is that until more drivers/cars join the service there are likely to be lots of occasions when cars are unavailable in your area. We used the app twice for lengthy trips and it worked just as it should. However, several times we found cars were unavailable, especially at night.
Goa Miles should be a great service with fair prices and safe rides – provided the taxi unions don't find a way to stamp it out.
Goa’s rail services, though great for getting to and from the state, aren’t particularly useful for getting around it. It's usually quicker and more convenient to travel by bus, taxi or under your own steam. An exception is travelling the length of the state, say from Arambol or Mapusa to Palolem, which would otherwise require several bus changes.
- There are two railways in Goa: the South Central Railway runs east from Vasco da Gama, through Margao and into Karnataka. This line is most useful for day tripping to Dudhsagar Falls via Colem station.
- The interstate Konkan Railway train line passes through Goa: stations from north to south in Goa 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).