Yangtze River Cruise

The Yangtze River rises in the Tibet Plateau and flows east across the entire width of China until it empties into the East China Sea near Shanghai. Over 6300 km, it’s Asia’s largest river and the third-longest river in the world, after the Nile and Amazon.

Taking a cruise along this mighty river is a real voyage of discovery to enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery. It can slow your pace and relax your mind with a leisurely journey, letting you take in picturesque gorges from a deck chair or personal balcony. Every year, millions of travelers come to China to enjoy this fantastic experience. The Three Gorges (Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, Xiling Gorge) is the highlight of the Yangtze River, and most Yangtze River cruise ships are sailing in this section. It is blessed with a richness of natural/manmade scenery and cultural relics such as the Three Gorges Dam, Gemstone Stronghold, and Shennong Stream.

The river cruise itself is typically just a short part of the entire cruise tour itinerary, with time on the river only encompassing three to five nights (sailing between Chongqing and Yichang, or Chongqing and Wuhan). Mostly all itineraries include an excursion into the Lesser Three Gorges region and a stop at the Three Gorges Dam site; itineraries may also feature a visit to the Shibaozhai Temple; the pandas at the Chongqing Zoo; a primary school; the “ghost city” of Fengdu; or the Hubei Provincial Museum, with its cultural relics and ancient instruments.

The sheer size of the Yangtze River means it doesn’t have many of the same restrictions found on European rivers, such as low bridges or significant changes in water levels that can affect itineraries. This means ships are generally larger than European river vessels and can accommodate extra amenities, such as stateroom balconies, shops, spas, gyms, and/or Internet cafes.

Useful Information

Recommended Visiting Time: 4 days 3 nights or 5 days 4 nights
Boarding Time: 17h00-20h00
Departure Time: 21h00
Embarkation: Chaotianmen, Chongqing
Tickers: Above 2000 RMB, The price depends on a different boat and room type, please consult our travel agency for details.
Disembarkation: Maoping, Yichang
Arrival Time: 12h30-13h30

Best Time for Yangtze River Cruises

The main Yangtze cruise season is April to October, although some lines operate outside these months. The weather is most comfortable in spring (April and May) and autumn (September and October).

Three Gorges Dam: It took 17 years and more than an estimated $28 billion to build the world’s largest dam. While it’s a mighty feat of construction, the Three Gorges Dam was also controversial, as it controlled flooding on the Yangtze while drowning towns and archaeological sites, and displacing more than 1.3 million people. A tour covers the dam, locks, and hydroelectric power station (the largest in the world), as well as insight into the pros and cons of China’s largest construction project since the Great Wall. Sailing through the five-step lock adjacent to the dam is another highlight of any Yangtze River cruise.

Lesser Three Gorges: Passengers leave their cruise ships and board smaller vessels to sail through the narrow, breathtaking Lesser Three Gorges region, lined by sheer cliffs and mountains. Bring binoculars for a chance to get a close-up view of the hanging coffins of the ancient Ba people that cling to the rock face, along with the ancient cliffside plank road and perhaps the monkeys that inhabit the banks.

Shibaozhai Temple: The dramatic 12-story, red Shibaozhai Temple is described as “the Pearl of the Yangtze.” It was built in 1650, and legend has it that the higher you climb, the more your prayers will be answered. It’s also worth clambering up the steep steps for the panoramic views over the river and surrounding countryside.

Fengdu: Called China’s ancient “Ghost City” near Ming Mountain, is known for its Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucianist ties to spirits and the afterlife, and its temples and statuary have proved this to visitors. Due to flooding from the Three Gorges Dam project, most of the mystical riverfront city has since been relocated to higher ground, though happily not all of the historic sections were submerged.

Shennv (Goddess) Stream and Shennong Stream boat trips:
Shennong Stream is generally quieter than Shennv and includes the option to travel on a traditional sampan boat rowed by local Tujia boatmen. Journeying into this stream takes you past riverside villages and ‘hanging’ wooden coffins lying on buttresses wedged into the cliff faces — a precarious burial spot believed to have been used by the Bo people. Scholars are still foxed as to how the coffins were placed here in the first place.

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