There are scams in every tourist destination. The good news is that you are unlikely to get seriously stung in Goa. In no particular order here are ten tricks to watch out for:
1. BOTTLED WATER
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Anyone remember ‘Peckham Spring Water’ from the BBC comedy “Only Fools and Horses“? Well, India were ahead of the game. Just check the seal is unbroken on any water you buy from street sellers and train stations. The local Dell Boy could give you “Dehli Belly” if you are not careful.
2. ELEPHANT PHOTOS
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There are well treated temple elephants in Goa. Also there are some “holy men” (Sadhus) who operate in Calangute and Candolim for their own gain. They say the elephant can remove sins and will encourage posing with it before hassling for a very large “donation”. The mistreatment of these elephants is well known and locals will often warn you, but it continues.
3. NO CHANGE
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Not having change is often genuine in Goa. In fact don’t be surprised if you are given boiled sweets in supermarkets instead of small change. Just make sure you carry change. Almost certainly you will not get anything back from a rickshaw driver.
4. GIFTS FOR BACK HOME
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Be extra careful when you are buying wrapped gifts to take home. That lovely box of saffron might turn out to be finely shredded orange paper.
5. SPECIAL DEALS (Internet SIM card top-ups)
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This may not be common, but we were caught out with a “special deal” which promised automatic future credit. Where possible check on-line to see what providers are changing presently before topping up.
6. EAR CLEANERS
Ear cleaning is a genuine roadside service in India, but in tourist Goa you are unlikely to get the real deal. The scammer’s trick is to get to your ear before you know what’s happening and exact some pre-prepared gunk . Do take a look at the ID card they will show you. In my case it said the Ear cleaner had mental health issues, but others report amusing spelling mistakes like confusing “Microscope” for “Horoscope”.
7. RECOMMENDED SHOPS
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It’s common in Asia for shops to pay a commission to those who bring in customers. It’s not a scam itself, but the pay tends to be better at the shops who specialise in over charging gullible tourists. Even government supported tours who offer shopping for Goa’s famous tax free spirits take tourists (usually domestic) to one overpriced shop.
8. AIRPORT STAFF
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Watch out for the airport baggage carriers who like to help you get your suitcases of the carousel for you or those who want a few pounds (rather than RS 20) for carrying bags a few yards. Watch out for the toilet cleaners who collects one pound coins. More recently my Indian brother-in-law was charge import tax on the jeans he was wearing!
9. BEACH SELLERS
Although there are occasional variations, beach sellers are generally men selling pirate DVD’s and women selling clothing. It’s an illegal and is an expensive way to get goods. Watch how a group of sarong sellers will sit around a lone female tourist on the beach until she either buys or leaves out of discomfort. It’s time tourists stop buying from those without a licence.
10. PROPERTY BUYING
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This has to be the mother of all scams. Unless you are Indian (or are an Original Citizen of India) our advice is simply don’t get lured into thinking you can own property in Goa. If you are still not convinced read this personal account or this UK newspaper report.
HAVE YOU BEEN SCAMMED IN GOA?
As always, we would love to hear of your thoughts or experiences.
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