Goa Tourism: 14 Things Every Solo Traveller Should Keep in Mind
Over the years, there has been a significant rise in the number of people opting to travel solo in India. Today’s travellers represent a far cry from the traditional notions of holidays that we have held dear for years: instead of families going out annually, people prefer to head out with their friends, partners or even by themselves. More people today have a higher amount of disposable income at their fingertips, so funding their wanderlust is easier as well.
Besides, there are many ways to organise and plan the trip, whether you travel domestically or internationally. You can do a long trip or a brief one, or cover just one region for a few days before you return. A bit of research about the desired destination goes a long way. Not only can you make all your bookings online, but you can also find out the best places to visit, which ones to avoid, budget-friendly places to stay at and more.
If you’re planning a solo trip to Goa this year, then this article is just perfect for you. Goa tourism has, over the last two decades, laid out the veritable red carpet for visitors. There are many more cafes, pop up restaurants and tours, and there’s also a greater emphasis on cleanliness and accessibility at tourist spots.
You could be there on a short holiday or a longer backpacking trip – you are certain to find the right kind of resort, company and spots to hang out or explore.
But a word to the wise: though Goa tourism is safe, there are certain Do's and Don'ts you must follow. Solo travellers, don’t fret. Just keep these points in mind and enjoy your holiday.
* Choose Your Company Wisely: As a solo traveller, you are bound to meet with a lot of other folks who are out on a trip alone like you, or who may be part of a group. An important part of Goa culture is to meet and make friends with people from around the world. While it’s a good idea to mix with a couple of other people or even a mid-sized group if you’re at a restaurant alone or taking a hiking trail on the same route as them, please exercise caution with your cash, cards, travel documents and other essentials. If you are a woman travelling alone, do not accept invitations to join mixed groups in their hotel rooms, and certainly, do not take bike rides with residents promising to drop you at your hotel.
* Steer Clear of Unlit or Dark Alleys: Though it is relatively safe to walk all over Goa alone, be sure not to do it alone in a dark alley or an unlit street. You are vulnerable to mugging or assault. Every Goa tourism advisory for travellers urges visitors to be safe and accompanied after sunset. The danger applies to both men and women. Also, avoid riding through dark and lonely streets on your scooter or open-top car. If you must go out after dark, make sure you have a group of people with you or hire transport from your hotel.
* Watch Your Drinks: You will be dazzled by the array of beverage options you get at restaurants in Goa. Also, alcoholic beverages are priced quite reasonable as compared to cities like Delhi and Mumbai. So you will love to try out local brews with your meals. But if you are alone, and if another person or group joins you, make sure that you do not leave your drink unattended. It takes just a minute to spike a drink, and you don’t want to endanger yourself or even get sick.
* Watch Your Valuables – Depending on Your Accommodation: Several solo travellers like to save costs by booking themselves into hostels or budget hotels. Often, these places do not have a safe deposit box to store your cash, travellers’ cheques or other valuables. So you might end up carrying them around in your wallets, or leaving them in your suitcase in the hostel. Do not leave anything in your suitcase, because it might be broken into in your absence. Inquire about a safety deposit box while booking. Else, invest in a body sling that you can wear next to your skin and carry your cards and cash in it when you leave the room.
* Keep Your Head Safe: The best – and fastest – way to see Goa is to hire a scooter or motorbike and zip around town. You can cover a lot of ground in just a few days, and you can explore the different parts of Goa much better, too. However, though you will hardly ever find any residents using helmets, be sure to use the one that comes with your hired scooter. Transport operators are mandated to provide a helmet with the bike, and you must make sure you wear it – most country roads are bumpy, and you don’t want to end up with head injuries in case of a fall. Also, have a valid driver’s license in case you encounter a random traffic police check.
* Respect the Culture: Nowhere else in India but Goa would you have the freedom to saunter about in swimwear, or short shorts, or tube tops. You won’t be judged or worse, reprimanded for your clothing. However, you must still take care to dress appropriately whenever you visit the villages, and especially when you enter places of worship. Take care to cover your shoulders and knees when you visit the Se Cathedral, Mangeshi Temple, Sri Mahadeva Temple, etc.
* Drugs Are Freely Available – Don’t Fall Prey to Them: A lot of partygoers make a beeline for Goa lured by the promise of cheap drugs of all description. There are several ‘dens’ in places like Chapora and Mapusa where drug dealers make a lot of money peddling their wares to tourists. Seemingly innocuous fare like weed is freely available, and you can get it at a cheap price after some haggling. However, we urge you not to indulge in drugs of any type: though the State has a roaring drug trade, the police come down hard on those found in possession of them. The minimum jail term for drug possession under the Indian Penal Code is 10 years imprisonment.
* Decide the Cab Fare Before You Jump In: After a long day of exploring nearby destinations on foot, you decide to flag down a cab to take you to a good restaurant. But here’s what you do before you seat yourself: ask how much the fare will be. Get in only if you decide that the fare is reasonable, or in keeping with the normal fares charged for that distance. It is common for local taxi drivers to try and fleece tourists by arguing about the cab fare at the point of alighting. Another tip to incorporate when travelling: find out beforehand the shortest route for how to reach your destination. Google Maps can give you a fair idea of the distance.
* Be Careful of Pickpockets in Markets and Crowded Streets: Goa comes alive during Christmas and New Year’s. Generally, the tourist season from November to March sees a high tourist rush, and you will find crowds everywhere. Expect the markets, parks and streets to teem with people during this time. Also, expect to have your pockets pilfered, or your purse flicked – miscreants take advantage of the crowds and the tourist’s lack of knowledge of the area. Keep your cash stowed in the bottom of your rucksack, and keep only loose change in your pockets.
* Research the Places You Want to See Before You Book a Tour or Guide: Several tourists are cheated out of a lot of money by unscrupulous tour guides in Goa. Make a list of the places you want to see, and make sure that you book a tour or guide from a Government-approved agency only. Your hotel or resort can also recommend a good tour operator. Compare the tour and guide rates before you sign up. Look up Goa tourism rules on the State website for a list of Government-approved tour operators.
* Check Your Safety Gear: Many travellers love the wide range of water adventure sports they can partake of in Goa. You can book yourself for deep-sea diving, paragliding or even jet skiing with a reputed operator. However, inspect the safety gear provided to you on-site: a life jacket is mandatory, as are support and towing ropes in good condition. Also, check the credentials of the guide or instructor accompanying you, especially if you go scuba diving or underwater walking. Avoid swimming at beaches where there are no lifeguards. The Goa tourism rules about safety gear are clear and strict, so look them up before you venture out.
* Keep Yourself Healthy: The weather in Goa tends towards extremes. The days are white-hot with blinding and blistering sunshine. The nights can get cold, especially in the monsoon and winter seasons. Be sure to drink a lot of water, wear a hat, and slather sunscreen lotion on your skin whenever you step out. Also arm yourself with mosquito repellent, a flashlight and jacket with reflector strips if you’re going camping.
* Never Drink and Drive: A spike in the annual number of drunken driving cases has made the Goa police extremely vigilant about tourists taking the wheel after a few drinks. There are more spot checks at various points all over Goa than ever before. You may certainly have a few drinks since you’re out on holiday, but hire a cab or ask somebody you trust to drop you home. An essential part of safe Goa tourism is to follow all traffic rules, and the number one rule is never to mix drinks and drives.
* Book a Good Resort: The best way to ensure your safety is to book yourself into a fantastic Goa resort like the Club Mahindra Varca Beach Goa. Resorts like these ensure clients’ care and comfort on a 24/7 basis. You will never face issues of personal safety or a threat to your belongings, and you will also have the highest levels of luxury during your stay. Plus, the resort can help you plan the places to visit in Goa and shape your holiday further with a list of things to do in Goa.
About Mahindra Holidays
Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited (MHRIL), India’s leading player in the leisure hospitality industry, offers quality family holidays as also stated by Club Mahindra Membership Reviews, primarily through vacation ownership memberships. While Club Mahindra is the flagship brand offering Club Mahindra Memberships, the other brands offered by the company are – Club Mahindra Resorts Fundays and Svaastha Spa. As on Mar 31, 2019, MHRIL has 61+ resorts across India and abroad and its subsidiary, Holiday Club Resorts Oy, Finland, a leading vacation ownership company in Europe has 33 resorts across Finland, Sweden and Spain. Visit us at www.clubmahindra.com