We’ve been renting one of the 24 apartments at the Asian Golden Sands in Benaulim for 11 months and have received many enquiries from passing holiday makers about it. Here is some information for those planning to stay at this new development.
It is close to the beach, but also near to shops, restaurants and buses (see map below). Additionally, it is set a little back from the Vasvaddo Beach Road and surrounded by trees giving it a private and exclusive feel. Those with balconies on the front look out to trees, but can peek though at apartments and small shops on the other side of the road. Those who are facing the back look over the local football field. A real bonus, due to the surrounding greenery, is the variety of exotic birds and butterflies you will see daily around the complex and on balconies. You will also see the pigs and buffalo kept in the wooded areas.
- The beach is about 700 meters away and a very pleasant 10 -15 minute walk down a coconut tree-lined road. Along the way you will see mostly open land with rice fields, buffalo, herons and often a kingfisher.
- Two small supermarkets are a 5 minute walk in the opposite direction.
- Restaurants during the peek season (end Nov – April) are everywhere. When feeling lazy here is a lovely tandoori called C-Five opposite. Great quality, price and service and the owner gives tourists sound advice. For cheap local Indian food you probably can’t do better than the Hotel Satkar at Maria Hall (10 – 15 minutes walk away from the beach). During the peek season they have a full menu and is quite popular with western traveller on a budget. Both restaurants do not serve pork or beef, but others in the area do.
- Internet connectivity is not far away. There are a number of internet cafes near the Supermarkets. We bought a couple of Reliance dongles in a shop close to Maria Hall. They work well in apartment and on the beach, but not in some locations in Benualim.
- Full size swimming pool: At its deepest it is just over 5ft and can be lit for an evening swim. In late afternoon there is enough shade for those who don’t like too much sun.
- Parking: There’s space outside and on the ground level below the apartments. As none of the flats have permanent residents this is under used.
- Security: Two watchmen presently guarding the apartments 24 hours a day.
- Landscaped Garden: Green and flowering plants are kept maintained around the perimeter of the development.
Owners have added their own features such as air conditioning and gas stoves (fuelled by kerosene), but there are a few standards:
- Layout: 1 double bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room (combined) with balcony.
- Doors and Windows: Main doors are of unpainted teak wood, internal doors are painted white. French windows to the balcony are white coated aluminium frames with glass in-fill. Windows are sliding with white coated aluminium frames.
- Kitchen: Granite topped kitchen platform with stainless steel sink and 2 ft height ceramic tile dado above.
- Floors: Vitrified large tile flooring in all the rooms.
- Walls: White emulsion.
- Toilet/Bathroom: All are very spacious with shower area. Floor & wall tiles (non-skid) coloured ceramic ware & Chromium plated fittings of standard premium make.
- Dabolim (Goa) Airport is 26 km away. Taxi charges at the airport are approximately Rs.1,000 (£12 or US $16).You can also get a public bus on the main road outside the airport to Margaon KTC (4Kms from Benaulim) for around Rs.23. This is a fairly direct route. KTC (also known as Kadamba) is a bus terminal so you can easily find another going to Benaulim (main stop Maria Hall). The Google Map here shows a rail link to Margaon, but unfortunately this is the failed Skybus metro line.
- Margaon (Madgaon) railway station is 3 km away. There is a official Taxi stand outside (charging Rs. 350), but unless there are a lot of you with big suitcases it is better to get an auto-rickshaw (day fare Rs.200 – night fare Rs.250. There are always many around and the journey is only 10 mins. If you want to save further and don’t mind being cramped you could get two buses costing (Rs. 5 and Rs. 10 per person – see map).
- Power cuts: Goa, like much of India, has over-ground electricity cables and the power tends to go off most days. Usually it is for about 5-15 minutes at a time and about 2-5 times a day. It is at its worse in the rainy season when there is also advertised maintenance. The worst we experienced was two days of no power from 9am – 6pm.
- Out of Season: from June to late Nov there is not much to do in Benaulim. Most restaurants are closed, the beach shacks are taken down and the weather is either wet, unpredictable or a bit grey. It’s still warm, but lacks light and the life that tourism brings to the place.
- In Season: You are unlikely to move far in the town without the familiar cries of “Shopping madam” , “Hello my friend … Taxi?”. On the beach (even when eating at a restaurant) you are likely to encounter men selling pirate DVD’s and women selling jewellery and clothing. It is probably most difficult for lone women tourists as the jewellery seller are quite happy just to sit next to a single tourist and create an uncomfortable silence. However, this can be expected in many tourist destinations and can be far worse. Most here have a good sense of humour and if are clearly not interested they will leave you alone. If you have no intention of buying it is best to say “no” when they say “maybe later?”.
- Phone signal: Idea is the local phone provider, but the signal can be weak. We needed to lean over the balcony to get a reasonable connection, but you will see by the number of locals walking around saying “hello, hello, hello…” this is a common problem.
- Dogs: On the beach particularly you are never far from a stray dog. They are not a major issue, but some will follow you, some will howl in the dead of night and they can be intimidating when they move as a pack.
- Rubbish: There’s no state organised garbage collection or public bins in Benaulim.
During our stay we have largely had the complex and swimming pool to ourselves. The owners here are extremely nice people and have generally used them for their own short breaks. Of course, most have bought apartments as property investments and hope to let them out more, but our feeling is that this place is unlikely to ever reach anything close to full occupation at any one time Even if it does get busy the chances are it will be with professional Indians who are always warm and friendly.
We can fully recommend the Asian Golden Sands and Benaulim for those who don’t want the night club scene and the extra expense of North Goa. It is much less commercialised, but you can still find live music during the peak season if you want a bit of night life.