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Cruise In China

Yangtze River Cruise

Itineraries with cruising between Chongqing and Wuhan on deluxe ships are the most popular for tourists. Different Cruise Lines have their own featured travel plans to cater different customer demands. Cruise length, ports of call, shore excursions therefore varies with the itinerary and the heading way you choose.

The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and third longest in the world. The headwaters of the Yangtze are situated at an elevation of about 16,000 feet in the Kunlun Mountains in the southwestern section of Qinghai. It flows generally south through Sichuan into Yuanan then northeast and east across central China through Sichuan, Hubei, Auhui, and Juangsu provinces to its mouth, 3,720 miles, in the East China Sea north of Shanghai. The river has over 700 tributaries but the principal tributaries are the Hun, Yalong, Jialing, Min, Tuo Jiang, and Wu Jiang. The climate ranges from 96 degrees in the summer to cold, brisk temperatures in the winter. Precipitation is high due to the height of the mountains.

A Long Cruise - Chongqing and Wuhan

Cruising by Victoria Cruises, President Cruise, Regal China Cruises, Splendid China, Yellow Crane

Plan A takes 3-4 nights and 4 days down stream and 5 nights and 6 days upstream. This is the most popular plan for it includes the splendid Three Gorges, Great Dam with a culture excursion to Jingzhou (Shashi) - a historical and cultural city and Wuhan - another important industrial and commercial centre in the central part of China. If you have not purchased transportation and you are responsible for getting to the ship, this plan is a favoutite choice because both in Chongqing and Wuhan it is very convenient for you to take a plane to most of the big cities in China. Of course this plan is more expensive.


  • More time on-board for leisure and entertainment, ideal for senior travelers and families
  • More Chinese culture-feature programs e.g. lectures on Chinese paintings, Martial art, Finger-boxing classes, etc.
  • No long bus transfers between cities
  • Easier access to docks, airports and deluxe hotels
  • More time on-board, costs more
  • Less adventurous for backpackers and trekking lovers

Scenic Spots by Route Chongqing to Wanxian

The cruise starts at Chongqing, the biggest city in Southwest China and key port of departure and destination for Yangtze River cruises. For the first few hours the river is lined with factories, but this gives way to some pretty, green terraced countryside with the occasional small town.

One of the first stops is usually the town of Fengdu. Nearby Pingdushan is said to be the abode of devils. Here the famous 'ghost City' is deserved to visit. Numerous temples containing sculptures of demons and devils have been built on the mountain since the Tang dynasty, with heartening names like 'Between the Living and the Dead', 'Bridge of Helplessness' and 'Palace of the King of Hell'. Travelers have given mixed reviews to this little 'Hell World' exhibit.

The boat then passes through Zhongxian County. North-east of the county seat of Zhongzhou is the Oian Jinggou site, where primitive stone artefacts, including axes, hoes and stone weights attached to fishing nets, were unearthed.

Soon after comes the Shibaozhai (Stone Treasure Stronghold) on the northern bank of the river. Shibaozhai is a 30m-high rock, which is supposed to look something like a stone seal.

Next is the large town of Wanxian, where most morning boats tie up for the night. It's a neat, hilly town and a great place to wander around for a few hours while the boat is in port.

Wanxian to Yichang

Boats overnighting at Wanxian generally depart before dawn. Before entering the gorges the boat passes by (and may stop at) the town of Fengjie (Yong'an). This ancient town was the capital of the state of Kui during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods from 722 to 221 BC. The town overlooks the Qutang Gorge, the first of the three Yangtze gorges.

Just east of Fengjie is a 1 km long shoal where the remains of stone piles could be seen when the water level was low. These piles were erected in the Stone and Bronze ages, possibly for commemorative and sacrificial purposes, but their remains were removed in 1964 since they were considered a danger to navigation. At the entrance to the Outang Gorge, Baidicheng, or White King Town, is on the river's northern bank.

The spectacular Sanxia (Three Gorges), Outang, Wu and Xiling, start just after Fengjie and end near Yichang, a stretch of about 200 km. The gorges vary from 300m at their widest to less that 100m at their narrowest. The seasonal difference in water level can be as much as 50m.

In between the Qutang and Wu gorges, most boats will stop for five to six hours so passengers can shift to smaller boats for tours of the Lesser Three Gorges. Flanking the Daning River, these gorges are much narrower than their larger counterparts and, some travellers say, more dramatic. You have the chance to get out and view the rock formations up close.

Xiling Gorge is the longest of the three gorges at 80km. At the end of the gorge everyone crowds out onto the deck to watch the boat pass through the locks of the huge Gezhouba Dam.

The next stop is the industrial town of Yichang, which is regarded as the gateway to the upper Yangtze and was once a walled city dating back at least as far as the Sui dynasty. Near the Yichang railway station you can take bus No.10 to White Norse Cave (baima dong), where for a fee you can boat and walk through taverns with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. Five minutes' walk from the other end is an equally impressive place - Three Visitors Cave (sanyou dong), along with a cliff trail that overlooks the Yangtze River.

Yichang to wuhan

After leaving Yichang, the next major town is Shashi, a light-industrial town. After Shashi there's not much to look at: you're out on the flat plains of central China, the river widens immensely and you can see little of the shore. The boat continues down the river to pass by (and possibly stop at) the town of Chenglingji, which lies at the confluence of Dongting Lake and the Yangtze River.

East of Dongting Lake is the town of Yueyang. Another nine hours will bring you to Wuhan, at which point most travellers are quite ready to part ways with their boat.

Choose A Cruise - Cruise Seasons:

High season and shoulder season
Cruising along the Yangtze is available all the year. High season is around spring and autumn in April, May, June, September and October. The season division varies with different cruise lines. Please go to Cruise Ship Gallery for the sailing schedule of the specified ship you choose. Cruise rates drop down 30% of the original one in shoulder seasons or in winter.

High water season and low water seaon
In summer, dramatic thunderstorms and torrential rains often happen and heavy rainfalls cause the high water between July and September. This period is usually considered as the high water season (flood season) on the cruising itineraries. And in winter, due to less rainfall, cruising usually halts somewhere in the low water season (dry season). You may find the note that "Depending upon the river's water conditions, either Gorges off the Daning River or the Shennong Stream will be visited." appear below an itinerary.

Choose A Cruise - Upstream and Downstream:

Upstream means sailing from lower part of the river (such as Wuhan, Shashi, or Yichang) up to the higher part of the river (such as Chongqing and Fengjie).

  • Advantages
    • Cruising at the speed between 15 - 18 Kilometer/hour, allows enough time for sightseeing and photography
    • Costs less, usually 10 - 30% lower than that of downstream
      More time on-board for leisure, entertainment and Chinese culture programs and activities

  • Disadvantages
    • Comparatively lower speed
    • Night sailing sometimes
    • The time passing the Gezhouba ship lock is usually around 4:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m.

Downstream means sailing from the upper part of the river (such as Chongqing and Fengjie) down to the lower part of the river (such as Wuhan, Shashi, or Yichang). Usually cruising downstream will take less time than upstream but with comparatively high cost.

  • Advantages
    • Fast speed, between 28 - 30 kilometer/hour
    • No night sailing
    • All scenic sites are arranged in the daytime, enough time for shore excursions

  • Disadvantages
    • Less time for each scenery scenic section
    • For example, only several 15-17 minutes for the 8-kilometer Qutang Gorge, less time for photography
    • Costs more
    • Very hot during the high season

Most cruise lines have adjusted their itinerary and on-board programs to allow tourists to enjoy both the river landscape and life on ships.

Choose A Cruise - How Much Do They Cost :

One of the most attractive features of a cruise vacation is the price. Even more expensive cruises are a good value for the money. Your cruise, accommodation, sightseeing tours and meals are all included in one price.
Both budget travellers and luxury lovers will find a cruise the most affordable way to travel. Costs of sole Yangtze River Cruises vary between 500 and 700 USD and if you choose a splendid Yangtze River tour with an extension to China's metropolitan cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Tibet, Xian or Guilin, the rates will reach between 1400 and 3000 USD. It depends on the cruise plan and standard you choose. Please go to our Yangtze River Cruises for details, if you do not find a suitable one, please email to us as we can assist you in finding one that meets your requirements.

Cruise rates drop down 30% of the original one in shoulder seasons or in winter. Some Winter Specials is a good alternative to the crowded peak season in spring and autumn.

Choose A Cruise - Security On-Board:

Unlike sea or ocean cruises, in-land river cruises feature narrow rivers, fast flowing water and submerged rocks, especially the upper reaches of the Yangtze. During the low water period (i.e. in winter), some waterways become endangered for ships with a large draft.

Most river boats are large enough to provide comfort and elegance, yet small enough for personalized service. On the Yangtze the cruise ships are usually about 330 - 400 feet in length, 56 - 60 feet in beam and 6-9 feet in draught with excellent stability. To ensure stability and on board security, most ships are well-designed and fully equipped.

  • Equipped with finest navigational equipment available
  • Built with two separate and distinct double hulls to ensure safe passage through rocky shoals
  • Crash proof
  • Wind-resistant
  • Built with fire-resistant walls and heat-sensitive sprinkler systems
  • Ecologically compliant
  • Equipped with state-of-art satellite communications
    Regular maintenance enables year-round operation
  • Lifesaving facilities in case of emergency
The following ships have been verified by the National Ministry of Communications of PRC and obtained the right to receive foreign travelers.
  • Princess Sheena, Princess Elaina, Princess Jeannia
    Regal China Cruises
  • East King & East Queen
    Orient Royal Cruise Ltd
  • Victoria I, II
    Victoria Cruise Inc.
  • President No.1
    Yangtze Bright Star Cruse Ltd
  • Splendid China
    Hubei Yangtze River Splendid China Cruise Co. Ltd
  • Yangtze
    Hubei Overseas Travel Group Ltd Cruise Co.
  • Yangtze Paradise
    Hubei Overseas Travel Group Ltd Cruise Co.
  • Blue Whale, China Sunshine, Yangtze Star, Yangtze Pearl, Isabella series (Guobin 1 to 9)
    Changjiang Cruise Overseas Travel Co.
  • Qianfeng, Queen
    Chongqing Qiaofeng Shipping Co., Ltd
  • Dipper Star (Beidou)
    Chongqing Dayou Int'l Cruise Travel Co., Ltd
  • China Dream, China Glory
    International Yangtze Cruiser of Three Gorges (Chongqing) Co., Ltd
  • Merchant, Zhaojun
    Yichang Three Gorges Int'l Cruiser Club Co., Ltd
  • Pinghu 2000, Three Kingdoms, Qianlong
    Ping Hu Cruise Co., Ltd
  • Dreamland
    Changjiang Cruise Overseas Travel Co.

Grand Canal Cruise

The Grand Canal, 1,764 km (about 1200 miles) in length, is the longest man-made waterway as well as being the greatest in ancient China, far surpassing the next two grand canals of the world: the Suez and Panama Canals. Running from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province in the south to Beijing in the north of China and connecting different river systems, the Grand Canal contributed greatly to ensure that the Chinese primary economy thrived in past dynasties. Now more than 2000 years old, some parts of the canal are still in use, mainly functioning as a water-diversion conduit.

The canal we see today was built section by section in different areas and dynasties before it was linked together by the Sui Dynasty (581-618). In 604 AD, Emperor Yangdi of the Sui Dynasty toured Luoyang (now the city in Henan Province). The following year, he moved the capital to Luoyang and ordered a large-scale expansion of the Grand Canal. The primitive building techniques stretched the project over six years. Approximately half the peasant builders (about 3,000,000) died of hard labor and hunger before it was finished. This project was thought to have been wasteful of manpower and money, which resulted in the downfall of the Sui Dynasty.

As a major transportation hinge in past dynasties, the Grand Canal interconnected the Yangtze, Yellow, Huaihe, Haihe, and Qiantang Rivers and flowed through Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang with Hangzhou at its southernmost end. The Grand Canal, which joined the river systems from different directions, offered much facility to transport foods and goods from south to north in past times. Just as importantly,it greatly improved the administration and defense of China as a whole and strengthened economic and cultural intercourse between north and south.

Boating on the old Chinese Canal is one of the best ways to get a panoramic view of the landscape of typical river towns in southern China, which include ancient dwellings, stone bridges of traditional designs and historical relics. Experiencing some of the local customs offers much delight to travelers. Tourists also have an opportunity to enjoy good food while appreciating the surrounding scenery.

Like the Great Wall , the Grand Canal is noted as one of the most magnificent and wondrous constructions in ancient China, which can really offer one a profound look into China's fascinating, historical past.

Admission Fee: RMB 15
Bus Route: K4, 504

Li River Cruise

The Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo is the centerpiece of any trip to northeastern Guangxi Province. Gorgeous Karst peaks give you surprises at each bend of the limpid river under the blue sky. Water buffalo patrol the fields, peasants reap rice paddies, school kids and fisherman float by on bamboo rafts. With its breathtaking scenery and taste of a life far removed from the concrete metropolis, the scenery along the Li River become one of China's top tourist destinations.

The trip starts from the dock south of Liberation Bridge in Guilin downtown area. Otherwise some agencies will transport tourist to by a one-hour bus ride to catch the cruise. The river trip is over eighty kilometers (52 miles) long and is estimated to take seven to eight hours. The eye-feasting landscape and country scenery will never disappoint you.

It is a Chinese tradition to divide the long trip into sections (just as the Three gorges along the Yangtze River) and give each peak an imaginative name. Although some take much of your imagination to see what it is like, listening to tour guide's legendary stories behind them is a delightful experience when you are appreciating the landscapes. Most are mystical fairy and love stories. The write choose some of the peaks and places to illustrate below. (They are presented in order of location along the River. You can also refer to Li River Map to follow them)

Click here to view more detailed Li River scenery

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