A BUDGET Guide To Goa, India

Last Updated on August 26, 2022

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This guide to Goa is guest written by Sonal from Drifter Planet

Goa is known for its massive beaches, palm trees, lush forest, rivers, churches, delicious food, parties and a unique culture that’s a mix of Indian and Portuguese.

Sometimes mistakenly thought of as a city, Goa is not a city but, in fact, a state (or a province) that’s divided into many zones.

A Guide To Goa, India, rural road with people walking and person on moped surrounded by lush green trees and electrical pylon

But not many people know that it was made famous by the hippies who visited this place in the 1960s.

For many, the hippie trail ended here and it became their permanent residence. Goa is still one of the best places to experience hippie culture in India.

This guide to Goa has advice on where to eat and sleep in Goa, things to do – and avoid (including secret things to do in Goa), and info on how expensive is Goa.

Additionally, you can use this Goa guide to find out the best ways to get to Goa!

🧳 MUST-HAVE: Before you head out on your trip, make sure you have travel insurance. I recommend either SafetyWing or World Nomads.

Learn from a Goa local guide, tarmac road leading out into countryside with fields and small trees under a grey sky
Goan Roads

How to get to Goa

Since Goa is a popular destination in India, there are multiple ways to get from from both within India and internationally.

How to reach Goa by air

Goa’s Dabolim Airport is a fairly well connected airport that operates both international and domestic flights.

How to reach Goa by riad

If you plan to drive to Goa, there are two major highways that lead into the region.

The first, and most popular route is from Mumbai or Bengaluru via National Highway (NH) 4. As this road is in pretty good condition, it is the preferred route.

The second option is from Mangalore on NH 17. This road is not as well maintained, but it still perfectly serviceable.

If you are coming from any of the above mentioned regions, you should be able to catch a bus or hire a taxi between major cities.

How to reach Goa by train

Goa has two major train stations: Madgaon and Vasco-da-Gama. Regular trains from Delhi and Mumbai are available.

Where to stay in Goa on a budget

Goa is massive! If you’re visiting it just for a few days, then I suggest you stay on either Vagator or Morjim beaches in North or Patnem beach in the South.

If you’re here for a period that’s longer than a week, then you should try to move from one beach to another and eventually hit extreme North or South.

I’ve included all the best accommodation options below

Discover beautiful beaches in Goa, India, distant setting sun over small waves lapping gently at a sandy beach
Palolem Beach

North Goa

  • Red Door Hostel in Anjuna: A dorm bed will cost you between INR 500 – 700 here. You can also book a private room. This hostel has a nice garden outside with a few tables and hammocks where you can get to meet fellow travellers. It is located near Anjuna beach.
  • Morjim Hermitage: Room on twin sharing basis from INR 999 to 2000. Don’t book from the website but email them instead for a better price. It is located on Morjim beach.
  • Roccoco Ashwem: This boutique hotel is a little expensive but is beautiful. A twin room here costs between INR 3000 to 4000. It perched on top of a rocky area on an empty part of Ashwem beach.
  • Arambol: Just show up here and ask for rooms. The rooms here are cheaper than most of Goa and it’s not possible to book most of them beforehand. The famous ones in this area are Om Ganesh, No Name guest house, Pitruchaya – they will cost you between INR 700 to 1200 on a twin-sharing basis.

South Goa

  • Secret Garden Resort on Patnem beach: It will cost you around INR 1200 for a double room.
  • Art Resort on Palolem beach: This is a boutique resort on Palolem beach and can cost from INR 2500 to 6000 for a double room, depending on when you visit.

🛌🏼 Click to check out the best budget accommodation in Goa

Get tips from this Goa food guide, plate of fresh hot steaming food on aluminium foil sat on chequered tablecloth
Seafood Sizzler

Where to eat in Goa on a budget

Most of the beaches in Goa are dotted with sea facing shacks that are typically run by local Goan families.

No Goa food guide is complete without recommending these little shacks. You can aat at any beach shack – the food will be delicious and usually affordable.

It should cost you between INR 200 – 400 for a seafood main course with beer.

Please try the local specialities – Goan fish curry, Prawn Balchao, Xacuti, Vindaloo and Sorpotel. Vegetarians or vegans can try Dal with rice.

Unlike in most of India, beef is sold legally here and is delicious. I also recommend you try Salt and Pepper in Vagator for beef burgers.

Learn some fun facts about Goa, children standing on sandy beach with hills covered in green foliage in the distance
Morjim beach – one of the clea
Find out how to get to Goa on a budget, setting sun over a calm sea with small waves on a sandy beach
Morjim Beach

Best things to do in Goa

Arambol Sweet Lake

Arambol beach in Northern Goa has its own secret.

If you walk towards the end of the beach through the path that leads from between the rocks, you will reach a cove, which is more commonly known as Kalacha beach.

Right opposite this beach is a fresh water lake that is known as “Sweet Lake”. Swim in this lake or just relax next to it, it’s easy to spend many hours here.

Find your favourite secret things to do in Goa, view across bay towards sandy beach next to blue sea with tree-covered hills in the distance
View from Cabo de Rama Fort

Abandoned forts

You should try to visit at least one of the famous three – Chapora Fort, Fort Aguada and Cabo de Rama.

They a favourite for any Goa local guide as they’re all fun to explore and overlook beautiful beaches.

Sunset view from Mandrem beach

This lesser-known beach is between Ashwem and Morjim beaches. This beach can be accessed by crossing a tiny narrow bridge from the main road.

The best part is if you climb on to the rocks behind the main road, you can get a good view of the ocean and sunset.

This is one of my favorite secret things to do in Goa as you often get the entire beach to yourself to enjoy sunset.

🎫 TOP TIP: Looking for tickets to some of the best shows, activities and passes? I highly recommend booking via Viator for the best prices and deals!

Famous churches

Any guide to Goa worth following won’t let you visit without seeing at least one of the unique and beautiful churches.

Visit one of the famous historical churches such as Basilica of Bom Jesus (1605), Se Cathedral (1619), or Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (1541).

Alternatively, just head to Old Goa where a lot of churches were built during Portuguese rule.

Guide to Goa Tip: Rent a motorbike or a scooter for the best experience. Some of the most interesting places have a narrow leading path and can only be accessed by a two-wheeler. Local public transport is not the most convenient and taxis are expensive.

Discover how to reach Goa by road, people walking across wooden bridge over body of water next to green trees
Find out why Goa beach is famous, people bathing in outdoor lake with palm trees and sun-loungers nearby

What to avoid in Goa, India

Busy beaches

Do not go to Baga and Calangute beaches since they are always jam-packed! Calangute is one of the most famous beaches in India, but in my opinion, it just isn’t worth it due to how crowded it gets!

Generally, the farther you go from the airport, the better are the beaches in Goa, India.

Peak season

Goa’s peak season is December 25th to January 5th – try NOT to visit at this time.

Scams and tours

Tourist scams in India are very common. Luckily, I have never heard of any Goan scams (but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist).

I have visited this place at least 8 times and I think the locals here are honest and happy people.

However, you should definitely avoid guided tours such as dolphin spotting, dinner cruise, crocodile watching, etc.

Don’t hurt the turtles!

Some are ridiculously expensive and the others are not worth the time. It’s best to explore this place on your own.

Two of the beaches in Goa, India have areas dedicated to turtle nesting – Galgibaga beach in South and Morjim in North.  Please be mindful of this and do not step on the beach when it’s their nesting period.

💡PACKING TIP: Make sure you bring a good snorkel, water shoes and a fast-drying towel for all of the beach-going you’re about to do!

Learn all about hippie culture in India, people performing fire dancing with bright flaming patterns at nighttime on the beach
Fire dance outside Curlies in Anjuna

3 fun facts about Goa

1. The remains of St. Francis Xavier

The remains of St. Francis Xavier are more than 400 years old now and still in a non-decomposing state.

His body is enshrined in a glass container encased in a silver casket at the Basilica of Bom Jesus or the Church of the Good Jesus in Old Goa.

2. Goa Trance

Did you know that Goa Trance originated here a few decades back?

It led to a different style of parties with a strong presence of visual aspect that utilizes UV paint and decoration which is now happens all over the world.

Try to experience a party like this. These usually occur around Arambol or Vagator areas. You will see the flyers around.

Or you can just head to HillTop in Vagator, but check the schedule beforehand on their website.

📸 PRO TIP: My go-to camera for all my travels is the Sony A7iii – I highly recommend it!

3. Price of Alcohol

This Goa guide tip is for the drinkers: alcohol is cheaper in Goa than rest of the country!

Goa’s local brew, King’s Beer, is amazing and is only available locally. It is also more affordable than the other beers. But I don’t even look at any other beer when I’m in Goa.

There’s a drink called Feni that’s also a local brew.  It is made with cashews or coconut. It is an acquired taste that I have personally never acquired.

This great guide on Goa was written by Sonal, you can find her amazing blog here! She also has Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so make sure you check her out on there! You can find her on Pinterest as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ Where in India is Goa?

Goa is located on India’s Southwest coast along the Arabian Sea. It is a coastal region near the middle of the Southern half of the country.

Why Goa beach is famous?

Calangute is one of the most famous beaches in India and has earned the nickname, Queen of Goa Beaches. It is famous for its golden beaches and delicious food shacks.

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The Comments

  • Bob Southwell
    October 21, 2023

    I found the best way to get on in Goa was to not act like a tourist,don,t wear loads of bling,don,t be flash with the cash,and above all treat the people with respect,you’re a guest in their country so behave,it,s a lovely country,the people are friendly,enjoy.