EXCLUSIVE: Check Out the Amazing Photos of Lauren Conrad’s Trip to Thailand

06/13/2016 at 03:46 PM ET

Lauren Conrad Thailand
Valorie Darling Photography

It’s not every day that your job brings you face to face with an elephant, but for Lauren Conrad, encountering the friendly giants on her recent trip to Thailand was a definite perk.

“It was so surreal to be right up close to all these rescued elephants,” Conrad, 30, tells PEOPLE exclusively of her visit to the Elephant Nature Park. “And everybody we met in Thailand was so friendly and kind. It’s really a very happy place to be.”

RELATED: Exclusive: Look Inside Lauren Conrad’s Stunning All-White Kitchen

The lifestyle maven traveled to Koh Samui, Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand to source local goods produced by talented female artisans to feature on her fair-trade online marketplace, The Little Market.

Lauren Conrad Thailand
Valorie Darling Photography

Lauren Conrad Thailand
Valorie Darling Photography

Lauren Conrad Thailand
Valorie Darling Photography

Conrad was joined by Little Market’s co-founder Hannah Skvarla, and the pair spent days meeting artists and even trying their own hand at the skills of the trade. “One group dyes [products] with indigo and it’s all natural,” she says. “We got a little class to see how it was done. We learned different techniques to dye. It was so cool!”

RELATED: Make the Apple Pie Lauren Conrad Served at Her Wedding!

And the Celebrate author had plenty tastes of the local culture, as well, snacking on traditional delicacies like veggie Pad Thai and Pad Siu. Plus, “I drank and ate a lot of coconuts!”

Lauren Conrad Thailand
Valorie Darling Photography

Lauren Conrad Thailand
Valorie Darling Photography

Lauren Conrad Thailand
Valorie Darling Photography

And for Conrad, whose marketplace has helped the lives of countless local artists, some of whom wouldn’t have any way to access the internet without Little Market, there isn’t a price to put on her own experiences.

‘The more time you spend experiencing other cultures and the way people live, it makes you more open-minded,” says Conrad. “Traveling opens me up to trying new things. It’s inspiring.”

—Aili Nahas

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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