After graduating from Sheffield Hallam University with a BA (hons) degree in English Studies Holly began a career in recruitment. This was put on hold in 2007 when she began her travels around Australasia, working overseas for some time too. After returning to recruitment and relocating to Oxford, Holly hadn't quite shook off the travel bug and embarked upon a trip around Indochina, Thailand, China and India. When an opportunity to join Audley Travel's South East Asia team presented itself she jumped at the chance. To be able to combine her passion for travel within a working environment proved too much to resist. Since working for Audley Holly has revisited Southeast Asia many times. After moving into the Hidden Beaches team at Audley, Holly has been discovering some fantastic beach destinations worldwide from the Indian Ocean beaches of Mauritius to the islands of the Philippines. When not working Holly can be found supporting her home football team, Stoke City, cooking and exploring rural Oxfordshire.
My Most Memorable Experience
I arrived at the Moon Garden Homestay after a short drive southwest of Hanoi and instantly felt like I was in another world. This character accommodation allows you to immerse yourself into Vietnamese history, culture and tradition, whilst enjoying complete and utter luxury.
Once a holiday home for a Vietnamese architect and his family, the property now consists of traditional houses, a pagoda and a church, all beautifully adorned with antiques. The welcoming hosts say that they want every item to tell a story, and no detail has been spared.
You can learn a little Vietnamese cooking, visit local farming families in their homes to try their tea and fruit, join your hosts whilst they pray to Buddha before dinner, and enjoy some early morning Tai Chi.
My hosts treated me to traditional after-dinner herbal hand and foot baths, and just in case I wasn't fully relaxed, I had a full body massage in the comfort of my own traditional house.
For anyone wanting to experience a homestay but not wanting to compromise on style or comfort, this is an absolutely perfect choice. From personal experience I found that this was a great place to stay after a busy few days in Sapa, Hanoi or Halong Bay. The massages also eliminate any aches and pains gained on a trek or two!
My Favourite Destination
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang is unrivalled in its charming French-colonial architecture, tranquillity, abundance of sacred wats, saffron robed monks and riverside eateries.
The alms-giving ceremony is a must-see ceremony at dawn.
With a fantastic night market, great restaurants and cafes, Luang Prabang is a great destination and a must-visit town in Indochina.
My Favourite Accommodation
A stay at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh feels like you are being taken back to the 1920s.
The attention to detail throughout is fantastic, from the flawless dress style of the bell boys, butlers and pianist to the elegantly and authentically styled rooms.
With a previous guest list boasting royalty and war correspondents you are in good hands.
This charming character hotel is not only a great place to stay whilst exploring the capital, but is a must see attraction in its own right, the restaurant and bar in particular are a must!