Fodor’s Travel

These 15 Scents Will Remind You of Your Favorite Places

Kristy Alpert 

Travel around the world with these perfumes, candles, and incense.

No matter where I am in the world, the scent of burning incense immediately transports me back to my days spent traveling through Indonesia. At the first whiff of cumin, I can remember the exact layout of the Rahba Lakdima spice market in Marrakech, which always reminds me how I spilled the entire bag I purchased in my suitcase, cloaking my clothes in the scent of cumin for the rest of my trip.

Our memories are often triggered by scent, which is a powerful tool in remembering those sweet (and sometimes amusingly unfortunate) moments from our travels. From a summer lemon oil made in Italy’s Amalfi Coast to a bamboo room mist used in a Tokyo hotel, these fifteen scents from around the world are easy to carry home and will help carry you back once you return.

01_ScentsAroundtheWorld__AlteyaOrganicsLiquidSoap_1.) Bulgarian Rose Liquid Soap

Alteya Organics Liquid Soap Bulgarian Rose 

WHERE: Sofia, Bulgaria 

Not only is the rose the national flower for Bulgaria, but the roses that grow within the country are also among the highest prized around the world. Alteya Organics grows Bulgarian Rose Damascena—one of the rarest flowers in the world—in the Valley of Roses, a region with ideal growing conditions for producing roses with a high oil percentage and an unsurpassed fragrance. The company steam-distills the petals to produce USDA-certified organic Rose Otto oil (the highest quality of rose oil) to create their numerous rose products, like this Bulgarian Rose Liquid Soap.

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Summer Lemon Hand Cream From Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella 

WHERE: Amalfi Coast, Italy 

Lemons are sacred in Italy’s Amalfi Coast, where they often grow to the size of grapefruits. Known as sfusato amalfitano, these lemons are prized for their intense aroma and super sweet flesh. The fragrance perfumes the coastline, especially from February to October during harvest season. Using ancient recipes developed by nuns, the Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella produces heavenly scented products made from fresh Italian herbs and ingredients, ranging from bath oils to massage candles and hand creams. The company is based out of Florence, but visitors can purchase their products, including this Summer Lemon Hand Cream, from the former convent of the Santa Rosa nuns at the spa inside the luxuriously converted Monastero Santa Rosa hotel.


Custom Candle From the Hotel Magna Pars 

WHERE: Milan, Italy 

The stylish Hotel Magna Pars was once a perfume factory, but this Small Luxury Hotels of the World member still has a keen sense of scent. Each of the 39 suites within this hotel corresponds with its own custom scent, ranging from aromatic woods (room 7 is sandalwood and room 9 is vetiver) to floral shrubs (room 21 is jasmine and room 20 is gardenia). Guests can literally bring home the scent of their stay by purchasing their room number’s candle from the onsite laboratory or gift shop.

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Sandalwood Incense From Cahaya Dwipa 

WHERE: Bali, Indonesia 

It’s not the smell of coffee or tea brewing that starts the day in Bali; it’s the aromatic scent of burning incense. Every morning, villagers throughout the country place canang sari (small woven baskets filled with offerings of flowers, food, or money and a lit stick of incense) nearby temples, at the base of shrines, or even just on the ground as a way to pray and give praise, and the smell permeates the air the entire day. The incense sticks from Cahaya Dwipa are handmade by a husband and wife team in Bali who use natural ingredients to create their high-quality scents. The cendana (sandalwood) incense sticks are sure to send you directly back to the streets of Bali with their fragrant smoke.

05_ScentsAroundtheWorld__LavenderSachet_5.) LE_CHATEAU_DU_BOIS_sachet-hd-(1)

Lavender Sachet by Le Chateau Du Bois 

WHERE: Provence, France 

Between mid-June and mid-July, the fields of Provence are aglow in a purple landscape of fragrant lavender blooms. The Lincele family at Le Chateau Du Bois has been producing and distilling their lavender since 1890, and today has become one of the most respected names in Provence. All of their products are Certified Provence Origin, including their lavender sachets, which bring the scent of Provence to your linen drawer, car, wardrobe, or, even your suitcase.

06_ScentsAroundtheWorld__PowderandpetalsEaudeToilette_6.) 20190212_150830-01

Powder and Petals Eau de Toilette by Oscar Mejia III 

WHERE: Manila, Philippines 

Jasmine is the national flower of the Philippines, where, unlike in many other countries, this aromatic shrub continues to flower throughout the year. In the Philippines, it’s known as sampaguita, marked by its smaller than average yet powerfully fragrant flowers. Famed local perfumer Oscar Mejia III harnessed the essence of this national flower for his Powder and Petals Eau de Toilette, which blends sampaguita, green tea, geranium, vanilla, and apple essential oils.

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Manuka Honey Reed Diffuser From Wild Ferns 

WHERE: Auckland, New Zealand 

Manuka honey is a product native of New Zealand, made by bees that pollinate the Manuka bush. The honey is a sort of “cure-all” for New Zealanders, who use the honey’s antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits to treat a number of ailments ranging from acid reflux to burns and wounds. Wild Ferns based out of Auckland makes a range of beauty products and balms from this powerful honey, but their Manuka Honey Reed Diffuser is their only product that truly captures the purity of this honey’s delightful scent.

08_ScentsAroundtheWorld__KonaKapeCandle_8.) Kona Kope

Kona Kope Candle From North Shore Candle Co. 

WHERE: Oahu, Hawaii 

This locally-made candle blends two of Hawaii’s most famous products into one delicious scent. The pure soy Kona Kope Candle from North Shore Candle Co. combines the full-bodied aromas of pure Kona coffee with the nutty essence of Hawaiian macadamia nuts into an easily transportable container. The candles are hand-made on the island of Oahu, but are available for purchase on the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai as well.

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Irish Limestone Hand Soap From The Burren Perfumery 

WHERE: The Burren, Ireland 

Everything at The Burren Perfumery is made on-site and by hand, often inspired by the local landscape and herbs that grow in this mystical region. The Burren means “The Rocky Place,” and is part of the greater Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark. The Irish Limestone Hand Soap made at The Burren Perfumery gives a nod to the salty sea air and ancient rocks that have shaped this region. The soap is certified organic, made from organic plant oils in a cold process that’s beneficial for the environment and for your skin.

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Chai Musk Perfume From Bombay Perfumery 

WHERE: Mumbai, India 

To the rest of the world, chai is a beverage; but in India, chai is an integral part of everyday life. This spicy, creamy beverage is consumed throughout the days, where a chaiwala prepares, sells, and serves the drink, often from a roadside stand that’s been in the family for generations. The Bombay Perfumery captured the beauty and elegance of this beloved drink with their Chai Musk Eau de Perfume that includes delicate notes of lemongrass, ginger root, and even hot milk accord.

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Queen of the Nile Perfume Oil From the Khan El-Khalili Market 

WHERE: Cairo, Egypt 

The Khan El-Khalili market in Cairo is one of the largest souks in Old Cairo, and one of the best places to score a deal on Queen of the Nile Perfume Oil, a scent reminiscent of the one Cleopatra wore herself. The market can be tricky to navigate, but getting lost is half the fun … and so is bartering with the vendors. The oils sold range from high quality to watered down with alcohol or water, so it’s best to see the vendor pour the oil into the container of your choosing to make sure you’re getting the quality product.

INSIDER TIPIt helps if they light a flame inside the oil container to make sure it’s not been diluted). 

12_ScentsAroundtheWorld__LemongrassReedDiffuser_12.) 2

Lemongrass Insect Repellent From the Sri Panwa Resort 

WHERE: Phuket, Thailand 

Although lemongrass may not have originated in Thailand (it was likely brought to the country centuries ago from Vietnam or Cambodia), Thai cooking wouldn’t be the same without this staple herb. In Southern Thailand, lemongrass is used in just about everything, from cocktails to healing balms. The Sri Panwa Resort in Phuket uses the fragrance of this beloved herb in the lobby and lounge areas as a natural insect repellent, but it’s also the main ingredient for some of their body treatments at the Cool Spa, where guests can purchase Sri Panwa Lemongrass Massage Oil or the Sri Panwa Lemongrass Insect Repellent to bring the scent into their own homes.

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Black Pearl Scrub with Monoi Oil From St. Regis Bora Bora 

WHERE: Bora Bora, French Polynesia 

Black pearls are ubiquitous in Bora Bora, where they are considered the “Pearl of Queens” and retail for about $100 for a small pearl or up to $10,000 for a perfect quality round pearl. The St. Regis Bora Bora is home to the famous Robert Wan pearl store with an entire window curtain made from these precious pearls, but the resort is also the only place to purchase a jar of Black Pearl Scrub. The scrub, which is a fraction of the price of one small pearl, has a floral scent and is made with French Polynesian Monoi Oil to nourish the skin and is available at the Miri Miri Spa by Clarins.

14_ScentsAroundtheWorld__SummerBamboo_14.) Andaz-Tokyo-AO Spa-Air Mist-Summer

Summer Bamboo Air Mist at the Andaz Tokyo 

WHERE: Tokyo, Japan 

The Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills rotates its scent throughout the year through its Society of Scent program, with original aromas perfuming the lobby and even into the hotel rooms where the amenities are themed for each seasonal scent. Each scent corresponds to the Japanese elements associated with each of the four seasons of the year, including Spring Cherry, Summer Bamboo, Autumn Rice, and Winter Yuzi. The Summer Bamboo blends wild, lush bamboo with the refreshing scent of cool peppermint and is an homage to the summer ritual of Uchimizu. Guests can purchase each seasonal scent in reception to continue enjoying the seasons of Japan back home.

15_ScentsAroundtheWorld__PatchouliAmberAromaOil_15.) Img 1 Patchouli Amber Aroma Oil from Mountain Rose Herbs

Patchouli Amber Aroma Oil From Mountain Rose Herbs 

WHERE: Eugene, Oregon 

Patchouli originated in Asia but was brought to America’s West Coast in the early 1960s, where it has thrived ever since. The owners behind Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon get their patchouli direct from organic farmers before turning this bushy herb into their signature Patchouli Amber Aroma Oil. The sensuous perfume blends natural amber oil with patchouli, vetiver, and cardamom essential oils in a half ounce glass bottle.