Travel the World Virtually With Immersive Sonic Escapes

Hear the sounds of a souk in Marrakech and find inspiration for your future travel
Hear the sounds of a souk in Marrakech and find inspiration for your future travel | © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo

Editorial Manager

A series of new audio experiences have been released with the aim of taking holidaymakers on journeys around the world. As we face an uncertain period of travel restrictions, can these Sonic Escapes really recreate the sensation of visiting different countries?

Travel experiences are often described as an assault on the senses – in the best possible way, of course. Now that our travel is restricted, we can still look at beautiful pictures of our dream destination – and even taste some of its food, with associated smells – from the comfort of our own home, but what about the sound of these places?

Chinese firm Huawei has launched a series of travel recordings, with the aim of showcasing new technology which can help to fully immerse you in three iconic locations. The Sonic Escapes have been created to take your mind far away, even though you might actually be at home. The collection is delivered in 360° binaural soundscapes, which work best with headphones or earbuds.

Listen to the sounds of the Yucatán jungle, before heading there to swim in one of the region’s many cenotes (swimming holes)

“Now, more than ever we need a break, a break without cancelled flights and a break without quarantines and social distancing. A true escape from the world around us. Sonic Escapes allows listeners to travel through rich, immersive sounds, soaking up the culture of three exotic locations, whilst also experiencing Intelligent Dynamic Noise Cancellation technology.” said Anson Zhang, CEO of Huawei Technologies. The company has launched the series to coincide with their latest FreeBuds Pro release, although everyone can access the audio experiences on the official site.

Here’s our guide to the three destinations featured in the Sonic Escapes series, as well as our top suggestions for places to stay in each city. Once you’ve been taken to the frantic streets of Jamaica’s capital and the bustling souks of Marrakech virtually, we’re sure you’ll want to visit them in person (when it’s safe to do so). You might even fancy the relaxing on the stunning beaches of Mexico when it’s all over.

Marrakech, Morocco

The souks (traditional markets) of Morocco are famous around the world. They are full of the energy and intensity you expect from a trip to one of the most popular tourist destinations in North Africa. The ancient city is built around Arabic and Andalusian influences, giving it a distinctive look when compared to other large cities in the country. The bustling nature of the centre is one that requires you to keep your wits about you, but once you gain some confidence, it’s time to hit the night markets. The Islamic call to prayer can often be heard in Marrakech and has become part of the daily routine for visitors and locals alike.

Places to stay

1. El Fenn

Boutique Hotel, Hotel, Riad

El Fenn
Courtesy of El Fenn / Expedia
Boasting 31 individually styled rooms, El Fenn is the luxury choice when considering a stay in Marrakech. There’s an enticing mix of authentic Moroccan food and drink to sample as well as remarkable views of the city.

2. Palais Riad Lamrani

Hotel

Palais Riad Lamrani
Courtesy of Palais Riad Lamrani / Expedia

A “palais-riad” is a traditional private palace with an interior garden. Many homes in Morocco try to emulate this design, but few do it as well as this boutique hotel. The Palais Lamrani does a wonderful job of capturing the Arabic and Andalusian influences we mentioned earlier.

3. Riad Dar Zaman

Hotel

Riad Dar Zaman
Courtesy of Riad Dar Zaman / Expedia

Dar Zaman is an intimate location that lives up to its name. There are only four rooms available, so you’ll get a private experience that showcases the best the city has to offer. Make sure you check out the experiences and activities on offer at the hotel to fully embrace the Moroccan way of life.

Kingston, Jamaica

The heady combination of utter relaxation and frenetic action are well expressed in Kingston’s soundscape. The Jamaican capital is famous for its port, which has seen the likes of Christopher Columbus and James Bond make land in the past. The latter might just be a fictional character, but 007 author Ian Fleming wrote many of his most popular books here while staying at his Goldeneye manor. Montego Bay is the lively hub of the city, where you can sample some of the best food and drink on the island. It’s also where you’ll be able to hear the unmistakable sound of reggae in the air everywhere you go.

Places to stay

4. Spanish Court

Hotel

Spanish Court
Courtesy of Spanish Court / Expedia

Conveniently located in the centre of Kingston, this modern hotel is perfect for anyone looking for a stress-free stay in Jamaica. As many people travel to the city on business, there are a number of meeting rooms and useful additions that make this ideal for working holidays.

5. Rafjam B and B

Bed and Breakfast

This is our wildcard pick for Jamaica, but one we think you’ll enjoy exploring. Set in the Blue Mountains, this authentic, family-run business is ideal for anyone looking to experience the side of the country often overlooked by tour guides. The kitchen also serves up homemade delicacies to order, so you can get a real taste of Jamaica from your own room.

6. Terra Nova

Suite Hotel

The corner of a pool at Terra Nova in New Kingston, around which are lots of tropical plants
Courtesy of Terra Nova / Expedia

If you’re after more of the Old World glamour popularised in films and books set in Jamaica, then book a stay at Terra Nova. Unashamedly proud of its heritage, the hotel is a glorious part of Kingston with spectacular views of the city.

Yucatán, Mexico

On the southeastern tip of Mexico, jutting firmly into the Caribbean, you’ll find the state of Yucatán. The state is the safest place to visit in the country, and as such has surged in popularity with visitors in recent years. Many people will head straight to the capital Mérida, which makes for an excellent base combining the comfort and convenience of a major city with easy access to the coast, which is only a few miles away. If you’re looking for adventure, this is the place to go, as some of the best beaches are surrounded by dense jungles making them secluded strips of paradise.

Places to stay

7. Chablé Yucatán

Resort, Hotel

The spa area at Chablé Yucatán with indoor and outdoor jacuzzis and a stone carved bath tub
Courtesy of Chablé Yucatán / Expedia
Committed to sustainability – which isn’t a new concept to people who live in the area – Chablé Yucatán is a welcoming retreat that has a number of wellness and relaxation activities on offer. You’re within easy reach of all the famous landmarks (ideal for excursions), but you might not leave the hotel, opting to take up the full itinerary of in-house treatments instead.

8. Punta Caliza, Isla Holbox

Hotel

Chable Yucatan
Courtesy of Punta Caliza / Expedia

Punta Caliza is rated one of the most romantic hotels in Mexico for good reason. The coastal retreat is a great getaway for those looking to work while away from home, so it’s a perfect spot to check out while the reality of a commute to the office is still on hold.

9. Papaya Playa Project

Resort, Eco Hotel

Papaya Playa Project
Courtesy of Papaya Playa Project / Expedia

This project aims to combine local culture with sustainability, making both as accessible as possible. Beach life is a big part of any stay here, but doesn’t come at the expense of luxury or comfort. The Papaya Playa Project is in Tulum, a fair distance from the capital of the Yucatán state, but its utter uniqueness earned itself a place on our list.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

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