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Where to Stay in Goa
Goa is the smallest state in India, and can be fairly well explored in just three or four days, leaving you plenty of time to see the sights and savor the beaches on all but the shortest trips. The capital, Panjim, is centrally located along the border separating North Goa and South Goa. While worth visiting, Panjim has few hotels geared toward tourists and even fewer scenic beaches. When seeking out the best cheap hotel deals in Goa, look to the beachfront areas on both the north and south sides.
Beaches are more crowded and resorts are more densely concentrated on the central coast, close to Panjim. As you move farther north or south, the scene gradually gets quieter and you’ll find that you have more of the beach to yourself. You can find budget-minded and splurge-worthy hotels on both ends of the state, but in general, South Goa is more expensive and luxurious than North Goa.
Goa Hotel Tips
Due to its extreme popularity among travel destinations in India, Goa has an enormous number and diversity of accommodations. With the exception of the week leading up to New Year’s Eve, when Goa comes alive with a celebration that’s tough to beat, it’s easy to find a room in virtually any price range. Compared to the rest of India, room rates in Goa skew slightly to the expensive side, particularly during the high season from November through March. If you really want to save, consider arriving during the off-season, but be aware that torrential monsoon rains and closed seasonal businesses may limit the amount of fun you can have.
The most expensive hotels are the luxury resort towers, many of which have lavish amenities. There are also several boutiques with upscale, individually appointed rooms. Mid-range options include quite a few Indian and Western chain hotels, but there are plenty of affordable independent resorts in the mix. The cheapest options are often simple beach huts, which can be charming despite being modest.
Goa Hotel Recommendations
If you want to spend your time in Goa in the lap of luxury, you’ve got no shortage of options. Premium resorts like The Leela Kempinkski Goa, which spans more than 75 pristine acres, dazzle their guests with private golf courses and beaches, gourmet dining and palatial rooms. This five-star retreat has incredibly comfortable standard rooms, but if you feel like splurging, expanded suites and even two-story villas are available.
The tough competition for luxury travelers’ dollars includes Pousada Tauma, a resort so intimate it almost feels like a bed and breakfast. Separated from the noise of the busy nearby beaches by lush gardens, this is a great place to relax, enjoy a few professional yoga sessions or even take a traditional Ayurvedic treatment in the spa. A larger and more traditional luxury resort, the Taj Exotica Goa, is an ideal option if you like lots of amenities at your fingertips. Perks include multiple pools, a small golf course, tennis courts, a spa and a variety of popular bars and restaurants.
If you’re traveling on a limited budget or just don’t want an over-the-top luxury experience, try Elsewhere… The Beach Houses & Otter Creek Tents. Located in one of the most remote parts of North Goa, this property consists of four haciendas and three tents, all of which are comfortable but rustic. There’s also the Wildernest, a small resort with cottage-style suites, all-inclusive meals and activities that will appeal to travelers who want to experience the ecologically conscious hippie movement that took Goa by storm in the 1960s.
The most convenient and worry-free way to get around during your time in Goa is to simply take taxis. They’re cheap and plentiful, and their rates are fixed by the state, so you shouldn’t have to worry about being overcharged. Many of the larger hotels and resorts have taxi stands where you can quickly catch a ride most hours of the day, but you can always ask your hotel’s front desk staff to call you a cab if one isn’t waiting. Taxis are also a great way to get to your hotel from the airport after your flight to Goa, but be sure to find out whether or not your hotel offers complimentary airport pick-up for reserved guests; many do.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you might want to rent a motorbike from one of the numerous rental shops near the beach. This is a popular way to get around, but it’s not without its hazards. You may not be able to rent a helmet everywhere you can rent a bike, and many of Goa’s roads are busy or riddled with potholes. But if you’re an experienced rider and up to the challenge, rentals are cheap.