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.
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.
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'
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Yangtze River Tour Sights