The Yangtze River Cruise
The Yangtze River, 6380 kilometers long, starts from Jari River, a highland flood in the northwestern part of China, running its way throughout dozens of cities with varied geographic conditions and awesome scenic spots and finally flows into China's East Sea. It drains one-fifth of the land area of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and its banks are home to nearly one-third of the country's population. Like Mississippi River in the United States, which influences the very much early period of Americans, the Yangtze provided a hospitable environment for the emergence of the earlier and dominant civilizations in China's history.
The river is in the hearts of the Chinese people who live there and with diverse geographic features and gorgeous sceneries, the river trip could be an ideal choice for one to experience both the spectacular natural attractions, the awesome dam and more impressing, the people there. The Three Gorges Dam, built in 2007, the largest hydroelectric project in the world, has drawn large flow of domestic and overseas travelers to come visit.
Currently, there are two major popular routes to travel along Yangtze River and to find the humanity's relationship with environment of the country as well as appreciate the magnificent natural sceneries.
Downstream Route: Chongqing-Yichang with duration of 3 nights and 4 days.
Upstream Route: Yichang-Chongqing with duration of 4 nights and 5 days.
The biggest difference between the two routes is downstream takes less time. For the same cruise company, their ships might have minor differences of shore excursions.
Amazing shore excursions along the journey take travelers to further discover the historic buildings and hidden beauties along the river. Shore excursions consist of two types: included shore excursions and optional shore excursions, varied with different cruise companies. Both excursions offer a great chance to take in more grandeur along the trip. Listed below are the famous sites of shore excursions:
Shibaozhai: Located on a hill to the north bank of Yangtze River, it is named after the Chinese legend of Goddess Nu Wa patching up the sky when one colorful stone was missed. People named it treasured stone and a temple was first built on top of the hill. The 12-storey construction was later constructed for easy access for pilgrims to get to the temple to pray as only an iron chain was there to help people get on to the mountain top. Nowadays, Shibaozhai is famous for its grand architecture as well as the majestic view of the river captured while standing on top.
Shennong Stream: Stretching over 60km with 17 sub streams flew in and 8 over 100 meters high waterfalls along the way, Shennong Stream features in its epic view and stunning beauty. Taking a smaller boat drifting further along the stream to take in more hidden gems is exciting and delightful.
Three Gorges Dam: Known as the world's largest hydropower project, it took 12 years to finish. Now, it plays an important role in flood control, drought resisting, shipping as well as power generating. The stunning Three Gorges Dam is also a highlight of the Yangtze Cruise tour during which tourists will be oriented by river guide to learn about the grandeur of the project, the impact caused by the project after its construction.
Shennv Stream: Also named Goddess Stream, Shennv Stream is about 15km long with picturesque peaks, perpendicular cliffs and limpid water. Five of the famous twelve peaks of Wushan Mountain are along Shennv Stream, endowing the stream with surpassing beauty. Disembarked from the cruise, a smaller boat will take travelers deep into the valley to explore and appreciate the natural beauty along the sides of the Stream.
Lesser Three Gorges: Lesser Three Gorges are composed of Longmen Gorge, the most magnificent one, Bawu Gorge, featuring in its grotesque hills and iron coffins from 2,000 years ago hanging on the cliffs, and Dicui Gorge, the longest and most beautiful part. Travelers will also enjoy nice encounters with wild animals like monkeys, mandarin ducks together with historic exploration.
White Emperor City: The best spot to overlook Kuimen Gate which is the entrance to Qutang Gorge. White Emperor City has also been entitled City of Poems as it appears repeatedly in so many famous poems written by famed poets visited here in Chinese history. Walk through different halls with the river guide, you will learn a lot about history during Three Kingdom period around 1,900 years ago and appreciate the stone tablets with ancient calligraphy.
Tribe of Three Gorges: Located in Xiling Gorge, Tribe of Three Gorges is where the people and the culture along Yangtze River are well demonstrated. At the Tribe, travelers will be amazed by the stunning natural beauty, and as walking further inside, stilt-houses of local Tu minority will come into your eyes, with various daily necessities hanging outside like straw rain cape, pepper, garlic, corn and bamboo hat. Follow the local Tu minority guide in the typical costumes, learn about the local life and appreciate the famous local Crying Marriage Ceremony. A peaceful small cascade is at the exit of the Tribe for a beautiful farewell.
Fengdu Ghost City: Fengdu Ghost City is the best place to show the Chinese people's strong next life belief. It is said to be where all souls rest after death. The famous Naihe Bridge is where all souls need to cross and after drinking special soup, they will forget everything in their previous life. The dead are supposed to walk through Guimen Pass and get into the World of Dead by showing their special passes made of yellow paper with stamps. Court of Hell houses many colored statues of ghosts, officials and Gods, picturing trials undergoing like in the living world.
Onboard Cultural Activities
Many Chinese cultural activities are held onboard to make the relaxing cruise experience more enjoyable. You can either choose to join the activities and learn more about China and its culture or to just relax and enjoy the enchanting scenery on the sun deck with a drink.
- Each morning, a Taichi Class is held and taught by a Taichi Master. Taichi is a very popular way to exercise among Chinese people of all ages. Looking simple with all the slow movements, every gesture and movement needs strength and solidity. You may find it unbelievable but only the first gesture takes some people a year to practice in order to do it in its best way. After you learn it, you could continue to practice once you get home and great changes will be found on your physical conditions.
- The 144 pieces of tiles are so popular in China with different signs and pictures. Though Mahjong can be played for gambling, most people play it for fun. When people gather together during parties and festivals, Mahjong is a common choice for amusement. Staff onboard the cruise will teach you how to mystically play with the tiles and you will discover the fun of the game.
- Beautiful Chinese paintings are commonly seen while travelling in China. Amazing as it is, it is hard to imagine simply using brushes and colors, and vivid scene of whatever is pictured will be shown on the paper. Travelers will have a chance to learn how to paint and match colors needed for the artwork.
- Crew onboard will perform Chinese folk dances of different minorities in different costumes for you to enjoy and learn more about minority culture.
- Chinese people love drinking tea since the ancient times and China has many varieties of good tea and special way to drink tea. During tea ceremony, travelers will appreciate the ritualized preparation and presentation, then try different fine tea and learn their functions.
- Dumplings is the symbol of reunion in Chinese culture as in the past, people made and had dumplings especially during Chinese Spring Festival. Today, the tradition is still preserved though people can have dumplings anytime they want in the year. Travelers will follow the steps to roll the dough first, and learn how to fold around the filling with dumpling wrapper.
Currently, cruise companies like Century Cruises, President Cruises, Victoria Cruises, Yangtze Gold Cruises, Changjiang Cruises and Yangtze Explorer.
Century Cruises ★★★★★
Century Cruises have currently 4 cruise ships running for Yangtze Cruise tour, two 5-star Cruise Ships of Century Diamond & Century Sun, and two super luxury Cruise Ships Century Legend & Century Paragon. With more choices, considerate service, new cruise ships and excellent facilities, it is one of the most popular river cruise operators.
President Cruises ★★★★★
3 major cruise ships including President 6, President 7, President 8. Ships are newer with excellent service, food and competitive prices. President Cruises are also the most chosen company for a Yangtze Cruise tour.
Victoria Cruises ★★★★★
The only cruise operated by US cruise company Victoria Cruises and the only cruise company that has native English-speaking crew onboard for a smooth communication. Victoria Cruises boast for their excellent service and food and with 7 cruise ships in total, travelling on a Victoria Cruise means more choices.
Yangtze Gold Cruises ★★★★★
Yangtze Gold Cruises hold largest capacity among all cruises with 6 cruise ships in total. Gold Cruises enjoy newer ships with new facilities, excellent service and great food.
Yangtze Explorer ★★★★★
Yangtze Explorer is the top luxurious cruise on Yangtze River with the finest and most personalized service. Travelers enjoy large cabins all with private balconies, 1:1 excellent service, carefully planned cruise itineraries and new look luxurious and authentic rooms featuring contemporary Chinese style. As the most luxurious and expensive cruise ship, travellers will find it worth every penny for an enchanting and luxurious cruise experience.
A Yangtze River Cruise is the best way to experience and take in the stunning beauty along Yangtze River. Yangtze River Cruise can be booked alone for a short tour along the river and it can be also booked with a package tour which makes classic China tour packages. If you have limited time, combination of Yangtze River Cruise and any hot destination in China is also recommended.
Check popular China Yangtze River Tours at: Yangtze Cruise Tour