Beverly Rhodes and her husband Anthony have always been keen travellers, having spent time exploring Europe on their motorbike when they were younger. Their RCI membership has, however, allowed them to travel further afield and see more of the world.
When their daughter Rhiannon came along, the Rhodes knew that they wanted to use their membership to have amazing family holidays and see as much of the world as possible. When Rhiannon was just three months old, the family holidayed in Palm Springs in California on an RCI Exchange and they are still making the most of their membership, as Beverly explains.
"We have been members of RCI for 30 years and have exchanged all over the world, including Malaysia, Mexico, the Cayman Islands, and most recently, Vietnam. It was an incredible holiday with a completely different culture and we got to see so much of it.
"We took our daughter Rhiannon and her partner Adam with us and stayed in Dalat, which is a mountainous region twice the height of Snowdon, so the altitude did take some getting used to. We like to go off exploring ourselves, but the driving in Dalat is mad and visitors have to pass a test to drive, so we got taxis everywhere which is a really reasonable, convenient way to travel, and it meant we were putting money back into the locals’ pockets.
"The culture is wonderful, and the Vietnamese people are so welcoming and friendly. It is a very traditional place, steeped in history, though in some areas it is becoming a little more modern. I did see an older woman riding her bicycle while balancing scale baskets on her head - it is a really iconic image of life in this part of the world - but this is now being replaced with lots of people on mopeds. It is a shame that particular art is disappearing.
"The Vietnamese culture is no more evident than in the Ancient Night Market, which is full of local people selling produce grown in the mountains. Staple products include artichoke tea, coffee - the coffee grown in Dalat is some of the most expensive in the world - food and flowers. The Vietnamese cuisine is delicious. Their diet is so healthy, with dishes made up of fruit, vegetables, noodles and rice - even for breakfast - though it did take us a while to get over the lack of sugar!
"One day, we visited the Truc Lam Monastery by getting the cable car down from the nearby Robin Hill. The view across the lush pine forests as we descended, was stunning and the journey was so tranquil. When we arrived at the Monastery, one of the monks came out to talk to us and he said he had been living there for 28 years, which was quite impressive! From our resort, we could hear them singing and the gong chiming in the evening, which was so calming - our beautiful resort, Terracotta Resort Dalat (DE46), really was in the perfect location.
"Vietnam is famous for its silk embroidery. We went to Cu Lan Village to see the artists hard at work hand stitching silk and selling their creations. Later, we went to X Q Da Lat Art House where the magnificent silk embroidered paintings are housed. You have to see it to believe it, some of the masterpieces are worth billions.
"We hired the resort’s minibus and the driver took us on lots of trips. We went to Nha Trang on the South China Sea to the beach, which was a lovely day out, though it took 4 ½ hours to get there, so be prepared for a long journey if you want to go! On the way, we saw some spectacular mountain scenery, traditional villages and travelled through the incredible paddy fields where the rice is grown. We also came across so much wildlife on our journey - including Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs and mountain goats.
"For adrenalin junkies, there are plenty of opportunities to get your blood pumping. Some of our party went off to do white-water rafting for the day, which just looked terrifying to me! There are lots of other extreme sports activities and organised excursions you can enjoy, as well as hiking and cycling routes if you like to keep active.
"We ended our holiday on my daughter’s 25th birthday with 12 hours in Saigon, where we managed to squeeze in a lot before our flight home. We walked around the War Remnants Museum, which was really interesting - though highlights just how brutal war really is, with some really graphic exhibits.
"Central Post Office is also worth a visit. It is beautifully designed, and still in use today, with huge archways and beautiful artwork. There are two maps of the region painted on the walls - one is a map of Saigon in 1892, and the other shows the telegraph lines that crisscross Vietnam and Cambodia. If you go, make sure to send a postcard home.
"Right by the Post Office is the Notre-Dame Cathedral, which is one of the most famous attractions in the city, so is a must-see. The all-red brick façade and the two bell towers are quite striking. There is a Virgin Mary statue outside the Cathedral, which is said to have shed tears in 2005, causing thousands of people to stop around the Basilica creating a huge traffic jam. So, that is definitely worth a photo opportunity.
"Our holiday in Vietnam was brilliant and I am already planning our next RCI adventure."
There are 33 RCI-affiliated resorts in Vietnam.
If you would like to experience Vietnam, just like Beverly and her family, it is easy to do with RCI membership. Click on the RCI Resort Directory below and use the handy search fields to choose your accommodation.
If you are a timeshare owner and are not a part of the RCI Holiday Exchange programme, what are you waiting for? You could be exchanging into resorts all over the world and seeing some incredible places. Click on the Join RCI button below and sign up in a few simple steps.