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We get asked a lot about how to get from A to B in India. One route that comes up a lot is Mumbai to Goa, simply because Goa’s such a popular destination for both international and domestic tourists. So, how to get from Mumbai to Goa? Read on…


Train? Quicker than walking, if you can get a ticket.

 I answered this question previously on Quora but then I thought what the hell, people ask us this all the time so why not make it into a blog post!

Here then, is that answer, with lots of background and ultimately detailing the only worthwhile way to get from Mumbai to Goa. I’ve re-worked and buffed it up a little just to make it even more definitive.

As always there are 2 factors to consider: time and cost. On balance, the plane wins hands down. In fact, it’s not even a contest unless you want to:
a) Go by train or bus for the experience. We think this is overrated; there are better train or bus journeys you can do in India, and you’ll probably do most of it overnight anyway.
b) Save money or be really eco-friendly about it, which is fair enough and a better reason than a).

Mumbai-to-goa-busBus? It may be scenic but you’d best have time to spare and be a heavy sleeper.

Bus: A pretty harrowing journey.

If you are on a really super, super tight budget then maybe do it, but I doubt many would be on such a budget. In fact, no, forget it, don’t do it, it’s really not worth it. And the bus costs the same as a 3-tier train ticket anyway.

Air-India-plane-at-Mumbai-airportAir India’s not the best, but there are plenty of other options.

Plane: 1 hour approx., average one-way fare 3,000 INR

Can vary greatly but there is a lot of choice.

There are a handful of airlines flying to Dabolim, Goa’s only airport. As of May 2015 these are Jet, SpiceJet, IndiGo, GoAir and Air India.

Note that there are international charter flights that fly to Goa as well, so you may actually be able to bypass Mumbai altogether, but that’s another article.

Forget trying to book flights with the airlines directly. Instead, just use http://makemytrip.com which is easy and doesn’t cost any more than booking direct. If you need a return ticket it also allows you to easily mix and match both legs with different airlines, which is often worth doing to get the best overall price. You may have to wrangle with the payment system a little if you’re using a foreign credit or debit card, but ultimately it should work fine.

Planes to Goa leave constantly throughout the day, and a few leave during the night. On Makemytrip you will see flights listed with, for example, ‘duration 16 hours’. These are the ones that do crazy stuff like going via Delhi (in the opposite direction), so make sure you select ‘0 stops’.

Don’t worry too much about which airline to use, it’s a short journey, but at Tripzuki we always recommend Jet or IndiGo if possible, they tend to have less inexplicable cancellations (these are quite common) and more professional staff. We would almost go so far as to say ‘avoid Air India’, which may be a bit harsh but it’s a long while since I, personally, have experienced anything positive where Air India has been involved.
Note: the international airport in Mumbai is near to, but not the same, as the domestic airport. Do yourself a favour: do not try to get the shuttle bus from one to the other, it’s a bizarre and poor service. It’s free but has no other redeeming feature, and if you’re running even slightly late you’ll be in bits by the time you get off.

Instead, go to one of the cab booths near the airport exit doors and get a taxi from one airport to the other for just a few hundred rupees. Mehru Cabs and EasyCabs are located there and both are reliable, just don’t expect a fancy car or a smart driver. You pay the booth operator a fee and then take your slip outside to the allocated taxi. You’ll probably stand around looking for the number but don’t worry, the driver will most likely find you. Don’t be paranoid about getting ripped off, like a lot of things in India it can be confusing but these cabs are pretty good, plus worrying about 100 rupees extra is not worth the anguish.

When you get off the plane in Goa you will be arriving at the new airport terminal building, opened in 2014 and about 100 years more modern than its predecessor. There is one notable drawback for visitors however. If you are being collected there are now multiple, bigger exit doors, and that makes it impossible for the driver to know where to hang about displaying your name. So if you don’t see your driver straight away, it’s worth wandering up  and down the concourse before you call the hotel or give up and take a normal taxi.

One more thing. The Indian practise of only allowing those with tickets into airport terminals persists. This means that once you leave the terminal, the soldier or policeman/woman at the entrance will more than likely not allow you to go back in, though as usual their bizarre method of checking that people have a genuine ticket – matching your dodgy printout with the name on your passport – is about as foolproof as using ‘password’ as your password.

mumbai-cst-railway-stationMumbai’s iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station

Train: 12 hours-ish, average one-way fare 1,800 INR approx.

You will need to book the train well in advance, but you won’t be able to book a train ticket online without an Indian phone number, so international visitors will have to use an agent; try our friends at http://IndiaSomeday.com.

If you still want to take a train then you will need to head into Mumbai to the main train station which is Mumbai CST aka Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. It will take you about an hour by taxi. Again, use one of the pre-paid taxi booths.

From here there are a few trains that leave at night – post-10pm – and get you in to Madgaon (Goa’s main station, in Margao) at around 9-10 am. These are the Konkan Kanya Express and the Mumbai CST-Mangalore Express. The 2-tier A/C tickets will cost approximately 1800 INR (about 28 USD / 27 euros). Another option is the Shatabdi which leaves early in the morning at 5.25 am and gets in during the afternoon at 14.30 pm. The Shatabdi is a seater train and not a sleeper, it’s also the fastest.

Note: All trains stop at Madgaon which is centrally located in Goa and not far from the airport (Goa aka Dabolim). However, bear in mind your final destination. You will be coming in from the north so if you are staying in the northern half of Goa it will probably be easier to get off at Pernem or Thivim instead of Madgaon, and you may save as much as a couple of hours doing this.

Pernem station is about 8km inland in the very north of Goa, making it ideal for access to hotels anywhere from Morjim in the south up to Fort Tiracol in the north. That means beach places like Sur La Mer, Elsewhere, Yab Yum and Little Palm Grove, as well as inland hotels like the lovely Siolim House are all best reached via Thivim.

Thivim station, 17km further south, is further from the coast but still the best stop for the busy heart of tourist Goa. That means hotels in Anjuna, Vagator, Candolim and so on are best reached via this station.

The plug:
you may or may not have a hotel booked in Goa. Beware: there are a lot of cheesy, substandard hotels here. A LOT.
Do your research. There are also, thankfully, some fantastic, characterful boutique hotels (plus the usual massive 5-star set-ups). For the boutique kind check out our Goa collection.