The fun, inexpensive and hugely popular way to get around in Goa is by scooter or motorbike. They’re available everywhere. The downside is it’s not for the faint-hearted and you need to know the law. Many offering to hire bikes in Goa will not be overly concerned with this.
I FOUGHT THE LAW AND THE LAW WON
Many visitors, domestic and international, hire bikes in Goa without the proper paperwork. Many get away with a small bribe (“tea money”) to the police when stopped. Times are changing with significant increases in fines and greater policing so why bother risking it when it’s easy to stay legal. International travellers will need:
1. Bikes with Black/Yellow number plates. In Goa these are the only legally registered ones.
2. An International Driving Permit. If you are coming from the UK you can get them from larger Post offices at £5.50 for the whole year. Remember to take the paper copy of your licence as well as the card.
3. Driving Licence and a photocopy of it. Scooters for hire in Goa are 100 cc or over so make sure your Driving Licence covers you.
4. Crash helmets. Police approved helmets are needed while riding on the highways in Goa. Helmet wearing is a little complex and unclear, but pillion riders require them too even though you may not see much of this. Theoretically, helmet wearing is compulsory on all roads, but as of June 2013 it does not seem the that police in Goa are able to enforce this.
Remember to carry the vehicle’s RTO registration (Regional Transport Office) and insurance documents. They could be demanded by the Police.
IT AIN’T ABOUT THE CHA-CHING, CHA-CHING
In the tourist season expect to pay around, Rs.200 per day for a 110 cc scooter and around Rs. 300 per day for a 150cc motorbike. You may get Rs. 50 off these prices if you shop around. If you take a scooter for a month it is possible to get it for Rs. 4,000 or even Rs. 3,000 if not in the December and January peek session. But, with everyone pitching hard for your business don’t lose sight of the importance of quality and reputation.
BORN TO BE WILD
Goa is relatively sedate compared with Mumbai (particularly South Goa), but it’s still pretty darn chaotic compared to the West. Here’s 10 pointers to keep in mind.
1. Stay on the very left side of the road as four-wheel vehicles aim centre and right for overtaking.
2. Motorists overtake from both the left and right sides in India.
3. Watch out for stray dogs, buffaloes, pigs, ice cream carts and quite frankly, the unexpected.
4. Expect to hear (and do) lots of honking . It’s the Indian way of giving warning. You’ll see many “Horn OK Please” signs (or similar) on the backs of lorries.
5. Don’t turn left at crossroads expecting it to be free, You could easily find a large lorry on the wrong side of the road.
6. Don’t expect to see much signalling.
7. When turning raise the appropriate arm to indicate the way you are going. The motorists behind are unlikely to look at your indicators. (update – balyjim on trip advisor quite rightly pointed out you could lose a limb with that tip in some places.)
8. Brake lights rarely seem to work on vehicles in Goa and anyone may stop abruptly (on seeing a friend).
9. At night don’t assume that a single headlight means a two wheeler is coming.
10. Fill up at petrol stations regularly or you may need the 1-litre plastic bottles sold on roadsides (best avoided).
If, like us, you are heading toward the later part of your lives rav-up and enjoy feeling like a teenager again.
HAVE YOU RIDDEN A SCOOTER IN GOA?
We would love to hear about your experience below.