Snapshot: Yangtze River Cruise

September 08, 2023

A Yangtze River Cruise winds through hundreds of miles of incredible natural beauty taking in centuries of Chinese culture

 

The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and the lifeblood of China with nearly a third of China’s population living within its basin area. The river bisects the country and runs 6,380 km from the high Tibetan Plateau in the west, to the East China Sea in Shanghai in the east.

 

 

The cruises start from the city of Yichang in central China and head inland upriver. The first port of call is the Three Gorges. Arguably the largest construction project on earth and certainly the biggest hydro-electric power station in the world, the Three Gorges Dam spans the length of the Yangtze near Yichang. Although somewhat controversial when it was built for displacing over a million people and the ecological impact it made, it is thought to provide as much as 10% of the country’s power needs, significantly reducing the need for coal-burning power stations.

 

The hydroelectric Three Gorges Dam spans the Yangtze River.
The hydroelectric Three Gorges Dam spans the Yangtze River.

 

At the start of the cruise, there is a visit to the Dam to learn more and an optional visit to the Tribe of the Three Gorges—one of the only remaining scenic spots not affected by the Dam project.

The cruise continues and passes some breathtaking landscapes including the Shennong Stream and the stunning Mianzhu Gorge where Hanging Coffins, containing the remains of the Tujia people, can be seen. It is these Gorges that many ancient shanshui—or ink wash paintings—were painted by skilled master artists. These ancient artworks of gorges, rivers and mountains hang in museums and temples around the world today.  

 

Deep vertical canyon walls in Shennong Xi stream.
Deep vertical canyon walls in Shennong Xi stream.

 

Continuing onto the ancient city of Fengdu, known as the City of Ghosts, consider an optional tour to visit a complex made up of shrines, temples and monasteries dedicated to the dead. An incredible 48 temples from various eras and in different architectural styles have been built on Ming Mountain, over the centuries, including the most famous Hall of the Jade Emperor—a temple dedicated to one of China’s mythical founders. The cruise continues up the river with a number of other optional stops and excursions until it gets to Chongqing where, after a farewell banquet, guests disembark.

 

The Yangtze Cruise—what you need to know:

 

What are the rooms like?

You’ll be staying on a Yangtze Gold 6 or similar ship. The rooms are all at least 24 sqm and have two single beds or a double bed. All rooms have a balcony, air-conditioning, a safe and a refrigerator. Hot water thermos flasks are in each room as are a limited amount of bottled water. The voltage in the cabins is 220v.

 

Room interior on the Yangtze Gold 6 cruise ship.
Room interior on the Yangtze Gold 6 cruise ship.

 

Are meals included?

Yes, all meals are included and there are places to buy additional snacks on the ship. The buffet restaurant includes both western and Chinese meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For those that prefer western dining in the evening, a VIP dining option is available and there are a wide variety of western dishes on offer. A reminder to never drink the tap water either on the cruise ship or elsewhere while visiting China. Water and ice served in the Yangtze Club and dining room are safe. Bottled water is cheap and accessible everywhere in China.

What should I wear on board? 

Casual attire is recommended both on board and on shore excursions. Be sure to have a pair of comfortable walking shoes for excursions. For the Captain's Welcome Reception and Farewell Banquet, a jacket and tie for men and dress or dress pants for women is suggested.

Is there Wi-Fi?

Although the cruise ships have limited internet access, the Wi-Fi is very patchy and certainly not to be relied on but it works best in the lobby and it is free. Why not enjoy a few days unplugged instead.

 

Sit back and take in the scenery on a Yangtze River cruise.
Sit back and take in the scenery on a Yangtze River cruise.

 

Is there any on board entertainment?

From welcome parties to fashion shows, film screenings and lectures, Tai Chi classes to karaoke—there is a wide array of entertainment options on offer with a full schedule provided to you upon arrival. There is also a gym, swimming pool, spa, library and a variety of small shops, too.

What about payments and tips?

There is no cash on board, but major credit cards are accepted and all purchases (in the gift shop, at the bar, and so on) will be put on your final cabin bill and settled on your last day or night on board. Generally, in China, it is not necessary to tip excessively but a tip of around 150 RMB (AU$31) paid upon checkout is appreciated. This is then pooled and shared between the staff.

 

The enjoyable deck views on a Yangtze River cruise.
The enjoyable deck views on a Yangtze River cruise.

 

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