Lauren's passion for all things 'travel' started when she decided to move to South America for six months when she was 18, where she spent her time working in an animal and wildlife conservation project in Ecuador and completely fell in love with exploring new countries and cultures.
After graduating with a degree in Ancient History and Archaeology from Nottingham University and spending some time conducting excavations in Europe, she decided it was time to see more of the world. Lauren then spent ten months travelling through India, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australasia. This is where her love for Indochina developed, with its ancient cultures, fascinating architecture, friendly people and beautiful vistas - she was smitten! Lauren joined Audley Travel in 2012 as an Indochina specialist, having spent three years as a European tour manager. Her passion and knowledge for Indochina is vast and draws great pleasure in planning itineraries to the region.
In her spare time Lauren is an enthusiastic cook and walker as well as practicing Yoga and Tae Kwan Do, not to mention satisfying her wanderlust whenever the opportunity arises.
My Most Memorable Experience
To date this would have to be Audley's 'Saigon after Dark' excursion. The experience gives you an insight into an evening in Saigon as a local would enjoy it.
I was picked up from my hotel on the back of a Vespa scooter and off we set, to tour the city. It was amazing being right in the thick of all the local action! It really felt like a local was taking you out and showing you what they would do on a typical night out in the city.
My local and expat guides first took me to a fresh seafood restaurant, where we tried the local beer and some delicious fresh seafood. Then, back on the Vespa and off to a pancake place where they cook giant pancakes right in front of you - delicious! My guides then took me on to a hidden music venue where I was walked through a shop, through a bike wash and up some stairs, into an atmospheric bar where we listened to a pianist, a violinist and a singer performing Vietnamese love songs for a packed crowd - all whilst supping our Vietnamese coffee. You just would never have been able to find it on your own! We finished the evening listening to a little jazz and rock and roll in another venue, a fantastic way to end a highly memorable night.
The whole night was like none other I had ever experienced in Saigon, it's such an atmospheric and authentic excursion and I would recommend it strongly, as long as you're ok with mopeds!
My Favourite Destination
Having a passion for ancient cultures and architecture I absolutely love the Wat Phu temple in Southern Laos, near the charming town of Champasak.
It isn't as much on the tourist trail as the Angkor complex in Siem Reap, so it is usually very quiet and peaceful. It is older than Angkor and dates back to the 6th century and it is believed that the people who built Wat Phu, then went on to build the magnificent Angkor complex in Cambodia.
Wat Phu temple was constructed on the side of a hill overlooking the Mekong River. There are steep steps up to the sanctuary at the top but I can never get over the fact that you are treading in the footsteps of these ancient peoples as you climb up the beautiful rock carved staircases to the top to marvel at the temple and its views over the Mekong valley.
My Favourite Accommodation
The River Resort is a beautiful hotel in a stunning location right on the banks of the Mekong River in Southern Laos, surrounded by pristine forest.
The rooms have huge floor to ceiling windows that look out at the incredible views and great outdoor showers which mean you feel more in touch with the abundance of nature and wildlife in the area. There are two chefs at the resort, Australian and Laos and so the food is varied and some of the best I had in the country. There is a great infinity pool that is perfect for relaxing and in the evening you can go across to the island in the middle of the river and watch the sunset with a glass of wine.
I think this resort is a great place to relax, unwind and really take in the beauty of this little-visited pocket of Laos.