Moving Around in Goa
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High resolution maps are not available for Goa – for instance, some popular isles are not shown in many maps. Also parts of Goa lack sign-boards, so finding your way around will be a challenge. When in doubt just ask – usually people are friendly and helpful – don't expect precise answers though (a so-called 'five minute drive' could take a good twenty).
There are many ways to get around but the most ideal way to experience Goa is by a tourist taxi which is tourist insured and hassle free. For starters do not come with the notion of catching an auto rickshaw to zip across tourist spots. The rick concept is a rare sight as they are few and far between and luckily that also means that it keeps the traffic here silent and organized.
Being a tourist destination the tourist taxi rates may seem expensive but this is due to a huge operational cost involved for the taxi owners. The drivers are usually very polite; they will ensure that you are safe in any odd circumstance and they also function like live tourist guides to Goa. All the star hotels along the coast will have a taxi stand right outside. So walk up to the taxi driver yourself for the best deal.
The rates for tourist taxis as per official government tariff are as follows:
For an A/C vehicle, minimum rates are Rs 900 and Rs 1750 for 50km and 100 km respectively; and max rates are Rs 5000 and Rs 9000 for 50km and 100 km respectively.
For a non A/C vehicle, minimum rates are Rs 750 and Rs 1450 for 50km and 100 km respectively; and max rates are Rs 1400 and Rs 2700 for 50km and 100 km respectively.
Every additional km after 100 km will cost you Rs 18 extra for an A/C vehicle and Rs 16 for non A/C.
Train stations are a little out of the way but will take you to the interiors of Goa such as the Collem River or the Dudhsagar Falls. It usually makes for a whole day trip and should be on your list of things to do while in Goa as you will experience the beautiful landscape along uninhabited routes.
PILOTS IN GOA
Goa is the only State in the country that has licensed motorcycle taxis, popularly known as 'pilots'. They have their own stands in all major towns in Goa and are easily identifiable by their trademark yellow and black mudguards. A 'pilot' ride is the most fuel efficient, cost and time saving means of transport in Goa. An average ride from Margao to Panjim (roughly 30 kms) costs you a mere 100-150 rupees, and within city limits the tariffs are modest. It's no wonder then that on an average day, one is most likely to see a 'pilot' zipping across traffic for the student who is late for class, or the aunty who is rushing to make it to church on time, or even the tourist who would like to breathe in the warm sunny breeze as they ride towards their favourite beach. Not much is known about how these came about, but it is widely conjectured that the 'pilots' came around to navigate the diverse terrains of Goa. So be it traversing up and down hills and the ghats, or manoeuvring through traffic jams, the 'pilots' make travelling in Goa an experience that is unique to the sunny state.
Choice of geared and non-geared motorbikes and scooters can be borrowed on rent (typically without helmets). Those planning to stay long can consider buying them too. Rentals are around Rs 300 a day (Rs 200 in non-peak season) on a Honda Activa scooter and a little more if one is looking for a geared motorcycle .You buy the gasoline extra as needed. Many small roadside shops sell gas at Rs 75 a liter, while the going rate at a station (these are hard to locate in the coastal areas) is around Rs 65 a liter.
For the motorbikes, always ask for a discount if renting long-term (one month or more) - you should not have to pay more than Rs 100 per day. Ensure that you have all the ownership documents of the bike. Also, avoid taking motorbikes with yellow plates out of Goa, it is a punishable offense. Hiring a bike with white plates is ok for local travel in your immediate vicinity but if you want to travel further afield then always rent the ones with yellow plates. Wearing a crash helmet is compulsory when you go on any major roads else you will incur a Rs 100 fine, or a large hospital bill. Don't forget that foreigners will need an International Driving Permit (Convention 1949) and this is the first thing the cops will ask you for if you're stopped. You should also carry your regular driving licence with you.
Fares: Usually priced between 10-20 rupees, buses are a great way to travel around and see the state. 20-35 rupees often gets you a 30-40km ride. But to use them be prepared to be packed like sardines and wait for long intervals at the bus stands. Engage in some light conversation with the locals who are warm and very friendly.
Although a self drive car is another option; there is no legal way of renting a vehicle which is insured for tourists. If you have an Indian license and want to take a chance then go ahead. A self drive bike can cost you anything between Rs.200 to Rs.700 a day based on the type of bike you hire. A car will cost you between Rs.400 for a Maruti 800 right up to Rs.1400 for an SUV. The fuel cost will have to be borne by you. Ensure you wear a helmet/ seatbelt on highways. While driving, expect surprises like domestic animals and little children darting across the road and unmarked speed breakers / speed bumps.