Updated: Jan 12, 2019
The moment you hear Goa, the images of beaches, booze and babes come to your mind. Coming from a metro city, you think this is a place to unwind and let all the worries flow away. Let me tell you one fact which I first heard as a rant by a few friends after their vacation. Eventually I observed how true it turned out to be. If the world is living in 2018, Goa is living a decade behind. In terms of urbanization, development, availability of resources, lifestyle and most specifically public transport, it is quite behind considering the location is a popular tourist spot. As a traveler on a budget one needs 3 main requisites to enjoy a smooth trip.
This and knowledge about where and how to go about getting them is what I'm here to help you with. If you have deep pockets, no need to sweat as there are plenty of hotels and services to cater your needs. Then there's my category that looks for the best bargain per buck. The most cost effective method of travel is to use the public transport.
The local buses are smaller than the typical government operated bus services. Every bus has a colorful unique design on the exterior. This mainly helps recognize the bus from a distance without having to look at the route board in front..
Owned by the locals, the service primarily runs with the objective of earning profits. This is why it is very common to observe the buses being cramped up with people. In a local bus there are 2 levels of comfort. Don't think air conditioned or non air conditioned because as mentioned earlier, it's Goa. The levels are SEATED or STANDING. There isn't any reservation as such. First come first serve or luck could fetch you a seat. You do pay for a ticket but you aren't provided with one.
Major cities such as Canacona, Margao, Vasco, Panaji, Mapusa and Ponda have regular shuttle buses which travel non stop and guarantees you a seat with every ticket. Although cost is about 15-20% higher than a local bus, you could travel with better comfort.
VERY IMPORTANT: Bus availability begins at 6:00 AM up to 8:00 PM. Frequency increases at peak work hours (7:30-10:00 AM, 4:00-7:00 PM) and gets lower as the night falls in.
Avoid using public transport late afternoon/evening if you have a long distance to cover.
As a traveler, here's what you need to do if you're planning to use public transport in Goa:
1) Identify the closest city to you and hop into a bus that takes you to the Kadamba bus stop of the city. (Major 5-Mapusa, Panaji, Vasco, Ponda, Margao, Canacona)
2) Identify the closest city to your destination. Take a shuttle bus that travels non stop. If the route is via Panaji or Margao, you will have to change buses.
3) After you've gotten off, ask the transport staff (light blue/Khaki uniforms) where to wait for a bus that would get to your destination.
4) In the bus, ask the ticket collector the name of the stop you have to get down in order to get to your destination. (Google the distance to verify)
5) Prefer to walk to the final location if it's under a mile. If the distance is higher, opt for bike taxi or rickshaw. (Will be expensive if you don't speak the local language)
Bike taxis (aka Pilot) and rickshaws are usually available at Cross roads, big churches, beaches and other hotspots. Travel by private taxis only if you NEED to. Especially odd timings or maybe if you're stranded. When you use public transport, the whole experience educates you with the topography which in turn makes it easier to travel without a map when you rent out a self driven vehicle.