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Cruising the Yangtze River

Listed under River Trips in Chongqing, China.

  • Photo of Cruising the Yangtze River
  • Photo of Cruising the Yangtze River
  • Photo of Cruising the Yangtze River
  • Photo of Cruising the Yangtze River
  • Photo of Cruising the Yangtze River
  • Photo of Cruising the Yangtze River
  • Photo of Cruising the Yangtze River
  • Photo of Cruising the Yangtze River
Photo of Cruising the Yangtze River
Photo by Dave and Deb
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The Yangtze has shaped China in more than just a physical way. Its rich lower banks have been fought over and the beauty of its upper regions, a landscape of pointed karst formations and swirling mists have been both plundered and admired. This river is the life of China and along its route are ancient cities whispering age old secrets and vying for trade as they have always done, sucking wealth along towards the sea, barely an arable inch unused, all feeding the vast population of people. At first they’ll be in their very Chinese houses, but as the river flows closer to the hubs of commerce the influence of the west is more dramatic. There are two reasons to pass this way: to see the entirely unique majesty of this remote part of China and to experience its history.

Though the route has been laid down by the river there is still plenty of choice about the kind of cruise you embark on, the main difference being duration. The furthest distance will take you from rather ugly Chongging to fit-to-burst Shanghai which takes about a week, but understandably there are many shorter options to ports between.

If you’re travelling the whole route, the first day will likely have excursions to Fengdu, called a ghost city, both because of its great age and because it is where the dead are said to migrate to. There are so many historic relics to this story as to litter the way, the skull like gateway is the first thing you see from the river, but this is also a beautiful region naturally, near by is the famous Snow Jade Cave and the Han Tombs, yet unfortunately part of Fengdu was flooded by the Three Gorges Damn project, which you hear mutterings of non stop on these trips.

The second major highlight are the Three Gorges. Cruise boats are able to pass through the number one gorge, called Qutang, which is the narrowest and most spectacular of the three, followed by Wuxia Gorge before entering the dam. It is possible to venture into the narrow passages of the lesser gorges in smaller boats, a excellent way to fully take in the enormousness of this karst scenery.

Past the dam system is Wuhan, clefted by the river like the gorges into three distinct cities joined by the bridges over the Yangtze and the Hanjiang rivers. Again it is a place steeped in ancient history, the rivers have always provided the region with farm ripe land. Visit the night market for a glimpse into China’s ancient, thriving heart and some delicious food. Photographers will then thrill at the opportunities to shoot some of the worlds most beautiful scenes, the karst peaks and clefts around Mt. Huangshan, where mist swirls and ancient trees stretch precariously off cliffs like the bonsais which emulate them. Truly unique views and landscape and one of the most amazing sights of a journey down the Yangtze.

Before Shanghai the river flows though Nanjing, another ancient city stewing in its own past.

Another big decision is whether you want to travel down or upstream. For me the logic is always to go with the current and this way leads you from the more remote regions into civilisation, but many people consider leaving from a large city more like a journey of old.

Written by  Lesley Harris.

Other expert and press reviews

“Yangzi River Cruise”

It was only 3 days, but yes, it definitely felt like a cruising environment and our Intrepid Travel Group of seven seemed oddly (and happily) out of place on a boat filled with giant bus tours of retirees. One group had 41 people in it! Our Yangzi Rive… Read more...

Written by  Dave and Deb. Continue reading on

“The Yangtze”

The Three Gorges, sent in their countryside of jutting rock and narrow mountains from which trees seem to hang are one of China’s most incredible natural sights and are an even more imperative destination now the region is so threatened by development. … Read more...

Written by  Kate Tonbridge.

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

I am thankful for the article post.Looking forward to visit more.

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im wondering what the historical significance of this river :) i have to do this for a project.!

Yangtze River is a Chinese salvation that exhibits primeval villages along the banks all of them depicting their affluent, commercial history. The water course is tranquil, muted, and rusty at first. However, the brawny influence of the West becomes quite remarkable as the river way reaches closer to the commercial centers.

are day trips from Chongqing available to travel on the yangtze river?

i do not have time to take an overnight tour but would like to do a day trip on the river. thank you in advance for any information.

Yangtze River (Chang Jiang)

As well as being the longest river in Asia, the Yangtze is of great religious and historical significance to the region. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of human habitation in the Three Gorges area that goes back seven thousand years.

Due to the river's width and the difficulty of crossing it in places it was the scene of many great battles in China’s history, and at many times acted as a border between the divided nations of North and South China.

Some of the Yangtze’s most famous inhabitants, the Finless Porpoise or ‘river pigs’ are now threatened with extinction due to increasing pollution and traffic on the river, and the baiji, or ‘river dolphin’ was declared extinct in 2006. However this increased ship traffic is supporting the region economically.

The most scenic area of the river is the Three Gorges region, covering 120kms of towering cliffs and narrow river passages. Construction of The Three Gorges Dam in 2006 has caused water levels in the gorges to rise giving the impression that the cliffs are lower and less steep and the river is much wider, however scenic cruises along this section of the route are still extremely popular.

The source of the Yangtze is in the Qinghai Province and its mouth is in the East China Sea near Shanghai.

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