Experiencing the World with All Five Senses

  • WHL Group
  • 25 July 2012

To dig deeper into the concept of ‘experiential travel,’ we asked the WHL Group’s partners – local travel experts from around the globe – to tell us how life feels in their destinations. We asked them to get sensory about it.

Find out which of the five senses is most heightened when you open your eyes, nose, mouth, ears and hands in a new place.


Sound in Corfu, Greece

Corfu, Greece, stimulates all five senses, but pay special attention to what you can hear. When on the beach there’s the crash of the waves. During the hot summer days, the din of cicadas chirping their hearts out. While travelling in the countryside, you’ll hear the sounds of sheep and donkeys, cats and dogs. Apart from nature’s chorus, you can also overhear philharmonics in the streets in Corfu Town, a place rich in music heritage.

~ Eva Makris, whl.travel local partner in Corfu, Greece


five senses - krakow poland - nowa huta

Let your eyes take in the communist architecture of Howa Huta in Krakow, Poland, and you'll visualise life in a bygone era. Photo curtesy of flickr/spacecase528

Vision in Krakow, Poland

While in Krakow, Poland, you absorb the spirit of the city through your eyes. Do some essential walking through the narrow, medieval streets and imagine the lives of the kings and aristocracy. Look at the mosaic on the facade of the Royal Cathedral and wander through the former Jewish district to gaze at the mysterious inscriptions on the Jewish tombstones. Surround yourself in the Communist architecture in the Nowa Huta district and imagine the lives of the workers in Poland’s largest steel factory (Stalin’s “gift” to the city). You can feel the extraordinary atmosphere and history illustrated by the architecture. Seeing a city like Krakow gives new meaning to the quote “the eyes are windows to the soul.”

~ Monika Prylinska, Urban Adventures local partner in Krakow, Poland



Vision in Malta

The Islands of Malta are a feast for the eyes. Our little archipelago is packed with treasures that visually stun visitors. The rolling countryside with its dramatic cliffs, the UNESCO-worthy architecture of places like the capital city of Valletta, and the crystal-clear waters are sights that never fail to amaze all those who have visited.

~ Daphne Klumpers, whl.travel local connection in Malta


tusheti distance jumping - Georgia

In the traditional Georgian game of 'Distance Jumping,' people jump over a felt cloak - so soft you may want to fall into it.

Touch in Georgia

While travelling in Georgia, all five senses are stimulated, but hone in on your sense of touch. Find a tactile experience with Georgia’s traditional felt cloth, handmade by local craftsmen. In nature, open your sense of touch to the inviolably green grass and the flowers of the remote mountains.

~ Ia Kverghelidze, the former whl.travel local connection in Tbilisi and Caucasus Mountains of Georgia



Vision on Lithuania

The best thing about the sights in Lithuania is how unseen they are. In Lithuania’s most remote and uninhabited regions, there’s the very real possibility that yours are the first human eyes to behold certain scenes. This excitement goes beyond vision and reaches all the way to your sixth sense – enchantment.

~ Kestas Lukoskinas, whl.travel local connection in Lithuania


five senses - madeira portugal - new years fireworks

Hear the boom of the world's largest fireworks display on New Year's Even in Madiera, Portugal. Photo courtesy of flickr/_pixelmaniac_

Sound in Madeira, Portugal

What you see in Madeira, Portugal, will astound you. Take in the rough hands of a woman embroidering delicate pieces of linen, and the dolphins swimming alongside your boat as it cuts through the deep blue waters. Our sounds reach superlative proportions: listen for the New Year’s Eve fireworks display declared by the Guinness World Records to be the largest fireworks extravaganza in the world. Come hear the boom!

~ Paula Ferreira, the whl.travel local connection in Madeira, Portugal



Khao Soi_Chiang Mai_CindyFan

Follow your nose to a steaming bowl of Khao Soi in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo courtesy of Cindy Fan

Smell in Chiang Mai, Thailand

At Chiang Mai’s famous Sunday Market, giant pots of curry lure you with the intoxicating tangled scent of coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime, cumin, coriander and chilli. The market is full of interesting textures, sights and sounds, but ultimately you’ll find yourself following your nose.

~ Cindy Fan, a whl.travel local connection in Thailand



Sound in Borneo, Malaysia

In the Ngemah Iban longhouse in Malaysian Borneo, you can experience an authentic homestay with something special for each of the five senses. Step into the unique longhouse by climbing a steep and narrow staircase carved from the bark of a tree. As your host invites you to sit on the mengkuang woven mats in the communal hall, rice wine or tuak is served. Then you hear a sound that you’ll never forget – the sound of the brass gongs. This cues the Ngajat dances of the hornbill and pheasant, which will be performed by the skilled Iban warriors and barefoot Iban women to the beat of traditional dance music.

~ Oshin Chin, whl.travel connection in Borneo, Malaysia



Just east of Hanoi, Vietnam, Le Mat Village is famous for its wine and other delicacies made from grass snakes and cobras. Photo courtesy of Hanoifan

Vision in Hanoi, Vietnam

Of all five senses, the sense of sight comes alive most for travellers to Hanoi, Vietnam. You’ll see scenes like hasty, bustling crowds of people and knots of vehicles moving through the streets. In our city’s architecture, you can see our great heights and breakneck development. By watching people of different generations exercising around the lakes, you see the daily lives of Hanoians. By enjoying the gorgeous view of the sunshine on Hoan Kiem Lake, you will feel the indescribable feeling of this city. Your eyes will thank you.

~ Hoang Xuan Bach, whl.travel local partner in Hanoi, Vietnam


five senses - timor leste - yellow-crested

The Yellow-crested cockatoo is part of what makes Timor Leste a very visual, colourful place. Photo courtesy of Jim Richards

Vision in Timor Leste

Timor Leste is Asia’s newest nation. Both of its two national parks have a stunning visual impact. The entire eastern tip of Timor Leste has been designated as Nino Konis Santa National Park. The park contains rainforest, white beaches and vivid coral. In fact, the park includes the Coral Triangle, which many consider to be the richest and most diverse area of coral reefs in the world. Feast your eyes on the colours and textures of the coral surrounding us.

~ Jim Richards, whl.travel local connection in Timor Leste


five senses - nepal - ethnicities

Nepal bombards the senses with new sounds and smells. Its variety of ethnicities means that flavours are full of tradition and surprise. Photo courtesy of Navin Shrestha

Sound and Smell in Nepal

Nepal is not only for the eyes. When you get out into pure nature on treks and while rafting, your ears will open to the thundering rivers and murmuring waterfalls. Listen closely and you’ll hear the hissing of pines in the wind. Meanwhile, the aroma of flowers will stimulate your sense of smell. As a home to numerous ethnicities, Nepal will put your taste buds to work when trying some indigenous dishes. In the end, the journey you choose will determine which of your senses get the highest stimulation. You just need to open all of them for a really experiential travel adventure in Nepal.

~ Purushottam Dhungel, whl.travel local connection in Kathmandu, Nepal



Sound in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The rumble of motorbikes, the honk-honk-honk of horns, the crazy jingle of an ice-cream cart, the squeak of brakes, the earth-shaking roar of dilapidated trucks, the jaunty sound of Cambodian pop pulsating from shops, the chatter and laughter of locals, the clang and sizzle of woks, the eager calls of “Tuk-tuk? Tuk-tuk?” – you’ll never forget the sounds of Phnom Penh.

~ Cindy Fan, a whl.travel local connection in Phnom Penh, Cambodia


five senses - brunei - cooking class

Follow your taste buds to the heart of Brunei with an experiential cooking class in a local family's home. Photo courtesy of wwww.borneo-brunei.travel

Taste in Brunei

Brunei Water Village, dubbed the Venice of the East, is a “must-visit” place in Brunei Darussaleam. Once there, to immerse yourself and be part of the local culture, indulge in a home-cooking experience. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the Bruneian culture and tradition as you step into a private household and lend a helping hand in the kitchen. Feel the warm welcome of your host family as they happily share their stories and secret recipes. The best way into the heart of Brunei is through your stomach!

~ Oshin Chin, Urban Adventures local partner in Brunei



Taste in Lima, Peru

Taste is one of the senses that the city of Lima, Peru, never fails to stimulate. Located on the coast of the Pacific, one of the richest seas in the world, Lima is a perfect city to enjoy a cuisine that indulges the taste buds of any traveller willing to try the multitude of fresh seafood dishes. Ceviche is our signature dish, composed of simple but tasty ingredients and to be enjoyed with a refreshing glass of our award-winning pisco sour, our national drink made from distilled grapes!

~ Sara Linares, whl.travel local connection in Lima, Peru


pirenopolis brazil waterfall

Feast your eyes on Abade Falls, the highest and one of the most beautiful of the Pireneus Mountain Range in the area of Pirenopolis, Brazil. Photo courtesy of Camilla Lelis

Vision in Pirenópolis, Brazil

In Pirenópolis, Brazil, get ready to overwhelm your sense of sight with awesome diversity. Observe our city’s historic centre with its 18th-century houses. Just outside Pirenópolis, you’ll find wildlife sancturies and waterfalls (hundreds in the region), trails that lead to places rich in nature, incomparable sunsets, wild animals and much more.

~ Camilla Lelis, whl.travel local connection in Pirenópolis, Brazil



Vision in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Bring your eyes, wide open, to Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. Both on land and underwater, visitors are exposed to splashes of colour, incredible forms and extraordinary behaviour, all courtesy of the fearless resident fauna. Imagine a wildlife safari that gets you up close to the blue- and the red-footed booby birds, the huge giant Galapagos tortoise, the dance of courting albatross, playful sea lion cubs, the unexpected Galapagos penguin, the prehistoric seaweed-eating marine iguana and much, much more.

~ Steve Nomchong, whl.travel local connection in the Galapagos, Ecuador



A dancer at a Salvador Carnaval party, one of the best local events through which to witness the diverse blending of cultures and ethnicities in Salvador, Brazil. Photo courtesy of Flickr/sfmission.com

The Full Spectrum of Senses in Brazil

The Travel Word asked its partners in Brazil the following question: “If you were hosting a visitor in your city for only one day, what single experience would be central for that visitor to come away with a deeper understanding of your city and your country?” The responses were fantastically varied, highlighting the great diversity that underpins Brazil and its people, cities and cultures.

Read more on Experiencing Brazil from a Local’s Perspective



five senses- toronto canada - downtown

Listen for the ground-level soundtrack of life in downtown Toronto. Photo courtesy of www.torontourbanadventures.com

Sound in Toronto, Canada

The sounds of Toronto are the most stimulating when it comes to a complete sensory experience. As our tours move from one environment to another, as we pass from busy intersection to quiet side street, from back alley to cosy cafe, the soundscape changes drastically. Our tours expose us to a variety of sounds, from the many languages spoken on the streets of our multicultural city (with nearly half the population born outside of Canada) to the clanging bells of the iconic streetcar trolleys that rumble through the downtown core. Have a listen, and let the sounds of Toronto bring you a little closer to experiencing a Toronto Urban Adventure!

~ Jason Kucherawy, the local connection at Toronto Urban Adventures



Smell in Zimbabwe

The fragrances and aromas of Zimbabwe vary with the seasons. As I close my eyes and think of the different senses, I am reminded of the distinctive smell of the first drops of rain dancing on the parched, sun-baked soil; as the beat of the rain gathers momentum the spirit quickens as it is relieved of the dry dusty winter.

~ Charlotte Moroney, whl.travel local connection in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe


five senses - ghana - changing landscapes

Somewhere between the golden coast and the flat savannah are the hues of green in the rolling hills of Ghana. Photo courtesy of Marian Thompson

Vision in Ghana

Ghana keeps your sense of vision busy with its constantly changing landscapes. From the colourful sandy coastlines in the south, you pass rolling green hills when you travel north, until finally reaching the flat dry savanna. Busua Beach is known for its long sandy strand, which is perfect for surfing. Visit Wli waterfalls in the Volta Region to walk through the verdant hills and waterfalls. To reach the savannah, head to Mole National Park, a natural expanse known for its walking safaris and for having the widest range of wildlife in Ghana.

~ Marian Thompson, whl.travel local connection in Ghana

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WHL Group

WHL Group is the largest local-travel company in the world, a global network of companies that help travellers find unique ways to experience a destination through local tourism professionals. WHL Group companies empower local partners who have practice in experiential and mindful travel and a local's knack for identifying, explaining and sustaining the distinctive qualities of a place. Visit the WHL Group website.
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