Yangtze River (Changjiang), over 6,300 kilometers long,
is the largest and longest river in China, and the third-longest
in the world, next only to the Nile in northeast Africa
and the Amazon in South America. The source of the Yangtze
River lies to the west of Geladandong Mountain, the principal
peak of the Tanggula Mountain chain in the Qinghai-Tibetan
Plateau, southwest of China. The river flows from west
to east through provinces of Qinghai, Tibet, Sichuan,
Yunnan, Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui and Jiangsu
as well as the city of Shanghai, finally emptying into
the East China Sea. With plenty of rainfall all year round,
the Yangtze River is named the golden watercourse.
The most impressive section of the
river is the three Yangtze River gorges:
Qutang Gorge, Wuxia Gorge and Xiling
Gorge, collectively known as Sanxia,
or the Three Gorges.
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 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.
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
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 Attractions