How to Plan a Yangtze River Cruise | Yangtze Cruise Ultimate Planning for 2022/2023
Taking a Yangtze River cruise sailing on the longest river in Asia is the must-do thing when traveling in China. Either if you likely to visit China only once may wish to combine a river cruise with the iconic sights such as Great Wall in Beijing, the haunting karst landscape in Guilin, cosmopolitan Shanghai and the Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xian, or if you have been to the above classic destinations before, it is time to float through the magnificent Three Gorges and marvel at the world famous hydroelectric gravity dam - Three Gorge Dam in a leisure and styled way.
Then, how do you plan a Yangtze River cruise for the first time in 2022/2023? There are some aspects you should consider before booking a cruise - best time, travel length, cruise ship and line, accommodation and dining onboard, port transportation, shore excursions and onboard activities and cruise holiday extension... After solving all the questions arising in your head, you can enjoy a worry free cruise vacation with your family, friends or groups... What are you waiting for? Check the following 14 useful questions to plan a Yangtze cruise now!
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Yangtze River Weather & Best Time to Cruise
Yangtze River stretches with a total length of 6387 kilometers from west to east. The most classic part for a Yangtze River cruise is between Chongqing and Yichang, with a distance of 648 kilometers. This section belongs to the upper and middle reaches of Yangtze with monsoon subtropical climate and enjoys distinct four seasons around the year.
Chongqing has early spring, hot summer, cool autumn and warm winter. The average temperature of Chongqing is 16-18℃, while the average temperature of 4-8℃ in the coldest month and 26-29℃ in the hottest month.
Yichang, located in Hubei Province, has humid subtropical monsoon climate. It has an annual average temperature of about 16.9℃, with the highest temperature of 41.4℃ in the hottest month around July and the lowest one of about 9.8℃ below 0℃ in about January.
As for the weather, temperature and sceneries along the river, the best time to take a Yangtze River cruise is in Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November). These months belong to the peak season. If you cruise in summer (June to August) and winter (December to Next February), you can enjoy the preferential price and the cruise prices are the lowest in winter. In a word, it is suitable for tourists to cruise Yangtze River at any time, and there are advantages and disadvantages for Yangtze cruise in peak season and shoulder season. Cruising in peak season, the weather is cool and comfortable but the cruise is crowded and cost is high; while cruising in shoulder season, the crowd is lessened and the cost is lower although the weather is not so perfect.
Three Gorges in Autumn
Three Gorges in Spring
Where to Start a Yangtze River Cruise?
In 2022/2023, the most popular section for a Yangtze River cruise is between Chongqing and Yichang. It means there are two classic routes for you: (1) cruise from Chongqing to Yichang; (2) cruise from Yichang to Chongqing.
How to select the starting point for a Yangtze cruise? Chongqing is a megacity in southwest China, with convenient transportation network well linking with Beijing, Xian, Chengdu, Guilin, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, etc. If you get to China via these cities, then, you are recommended to choose Chongqing to start the cruise. While, Yichang is a small port city in Hubei Province, close to Wuhan, with limited flights and high speed trains with other cities. If you get to China via Shanghai, then you can choose Yichang as the start for the cruise.
Chongqing, An Important Starting Point of Yangtze Cruise
How Long is Your Yangtze Cruise Holiday?
Your cruise experience on the Yangtze River won’t be long, usually lasting about 4 to 5 days. No matter you are looking forward to a simple cruise vacation or want to put cruise into your long China trip, 4 days or 5 days on the river will be perfect for a comfortable break.
How to Choose a Yangtze Cruise Route?
Compared with ocean cruises with numerous lines sailing to different countries and regions, Yangtze River cruise is so simple as you can imagine. In 2022, there are two routes for you to choose:
- Downstream Cruise from Chongqing to Yichang - 4 Days & 3 Nights
- Upstream Cruise from Yichang to Chongqing - 5 Days & 4 Nights
(Note: The itinerary for each route has slightly difference and usually upstream cruise has one more shore excursion than downstream cruise. All the essences for both routes are included.)
Special routes along the Yangtze River sometimes are available during particular dates. You may have the chance to sailing between Chongqing and Shanghai for a long cruise.
- Cruise from Chongqing to Shanghai - 11 Days & 10 Nights
- Cruise from Shanghai to Chongqing - 11 Days & 10 Nights
(Note: If you are interested in the long cruise vacation, please feel free to contact us for detailed cruise itineraries and departure dates.)
▶ Learn more about: Upstream or Downstream
Which Cruise Company Should I Take?
In the year of 2020/2021, there are six cruise companies running over 25+ ships on the Yangtze River. All these companies have rich experience on the Yangtze River, providing excellent service in every detail and good arrangement during several days’ voyage. All the above cruise companies sailing stably between Chongqing and Yichang all year around.
|Cruise Company||Features & Why Choose|
|Century Cruises||The new generation cruise leading most top luxury Yangtze cruies ships with advanced European styled service for superior sailing experience.The one and only Yangtze cruise brand winning the MAGELLAN AWARDS from Travel Weekly.|
|Victoria Cruises||Yangtze' preeminent cruise line and leader cruising along Yangtze for over 25 years. It is favored by over two million pasengers for the satisfying international service by the American management team and has the most newest luxury vessels.|
|Sanctuary Retreats||The world famous brand devoted to providing high-end boutique holiday experience for world guests with their luxury safari lodges and expedition ships at some of amazing destinations with the pholosophy of "Luxury, naturally." The only super 5 star ship is called Yangtze Explorer.|
|President Cruises||It is the honored and competitive cruise brand managing three large and luxury vessels designed by global famous ship designer team. The large & comfortable cabins offer a wonderful cruise trip for guests especially family to Yangtze River.|
|Yangtze Gold Cruises||This cruise company has 7 outstanding large and new vessels with advanced facilities and hardware, winning the prizes of "Best Luxury River Cruise Favored by Visitors", the top "Best River Cruise Brand" and other over 40 awards.|
|Changjiang Cruises||National famous travel brand receiving domestic state leaders and international state guests with two professional vessels popular among Asian visitors.|
To sum up, to enjoy best service with a new vessel, you can go with Century Cruises and Victoria Cruises. To enjoy luxury to the fullest with VIP one-on-one service, you can take Yangtze Explorer. To go in Chinese-styled way, you can cruise with President Cruise, Yangtze Gold Cruises and Changjiang Cruises.
Top Recommended Yangtze River Ships
Still feel trouble? Check How to Choose Your Best Yangtze Ship to get inspired now!
▶ Learn more about: Yangtze River Cruise Companies & Ships 2022/2023
Best Yangtze Cruise for First Timers
With several cruise companies and many ships offered, you need to narrow your choice down. After having basic impression about the cruise companies, you can go deeper to look at top series Yangtze cruise.
- If you are any types of travelers looking for best-value cruise with good prices and new ship, you can go to select from our Top 5 Best-value Yangtze Cruises;
- For those travelers who want to experience the brand new and high-tech on a cruise, you can enjoy from our Top Newest Yangtze Cruises;
- If you are on business or want a luxury vacation, it is highly recommended to select from our Luxury Yangtze River Cruises - all the ships are in high quality service and advance amenities and suitable cruise arrangements;
- If you are planing travel with your lovely kids (either infant or teenagers), you can get suitable cruise for your family. Just go to see at Family-friendly Yangtze River Cruises;
- Or, if you are on a budget, you won’t lose your chance to enjoy the same high level experience. Just go and find at Budget Yangtze River Cruises for your Holiday.
If you still cannot find the one you like after reading and comparing the ships, please head to our Find A Cruise, there are more ways to for you to find a PERFECT cruise.
Stay on a New Yangtze Cruise
Family Friendly Yangtze Cruise
How to Choose a Cruise Cabin?
You will spend 3 or 4 nights on a Yangtze River cruise in the same cabin. Choosing a suitable cabin during your vacation is an important thing. It is a personal choice depending on your budget and lifestyle. Before you make a decision, you should take some time to consider: The price of the cabin, the location of the cabin (higher deck cabin or lower deck cabin), cabin type, size and amenities. If you travel with a kid, you should know ahead whether the cabin you choose is suitable or not.
- Standard Cabins: Standard cabins with two beds on cruises are mainly about 13.00 to 31.00 square meters wide and arranged on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th floors. This is the common choices for most travelers.
- Business and Executive Cabins or Suites: They are larger than the standard cabins, which usually cover about 26.10 to 72.00 sq. m.. These rooms are mainly on the middle and upper decks of a cruise ship, like the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th floors. This is the choice for travelers who are in adequate budget.
- Luxury Suites: There usually are 1 to 4 luxury suites on a Yangtze River cruise ship. Most of them are more than 100 sq. m., However, luxury suites on some smaller ships may cover more than 70 sq. m. wide. Luxury suites locate usually at the bow of the middle deck, namely the 3rd and 4th floor.
Standard Deluxe Cabin on Century Glory
Presidential Suite on Century Paragon & Century Legend
How Much Does It Cost to Go on a Yangtze Cruise Ship?
Normally, most Yangtze River cruise ship charges about $356~$551 (USA dollar), while the price for Yangtze Explorer, the top luxury cruise on Yangtze River, is higher, which is about $1,041~$1,716. The cruise belongs to all inclusive package which includes accommodation, meals, shore excursions, lectures and activities, guide service, accident injury insurance, service fee and government taxes.
But, you need to pay attention to the transportation for getting to the cruise port and leaving from the ports to the airport or railway station, personal expense, service fee, and optional shore excursions are excluded in the package.
Yangtze Cruise Guiding Service
What Can I See & Explore along the Yangtze River?
In the section between Chongqing and Yichang, there are over 20 sights for shore excursions, both natural and cultural. That’s to say, you won’t always stay on the cruise, but have the interesting chances to go onshore in the passing destinations. Every day, you will go to enjoy one or two shore excursions in the morning or in the afternoon. Among all the shore excursions, the must-see attractions are Three Gorges and Three Gorges Dam Site.
No.1 Three Gorges Dam
Three Gorges Dam is the No.1 must-see attraction arranged by every ship as the first or last shore excursion. Located in Yichang City, it has been the world’s largest power station. Three Gorges Dam is 3,335 meters long and the top of the dam is 185 meters above sea level. The dam consists of three parts - dam body, power plants and ship lift. It is used for producing electricity, but also increase the Yangtze River’s shipping capacity. Travelers with a Yangtze River cruise will spend about 2 to 3 hours visiting the dam. You will not only have a close look at the impressive huge dam, but also learn the history, social impact, economics about the dam. If you show your interests to experience the newly-built ship lift, you can do this.
- Recommended Visiting Time: about 2-3 hours
- Distance from Yichang Downtown: 40 km, about 50min-1 hour’s driving
Learn more about Three Gorges Dam >>
Three Gorges Dam
No.2 Three Gorges
The Three Gorges span 311 kilometers, beginning at Baidi Town of Chongqing in the west and ending at Nanjing Pass in Yichang City in the east. It is composed of Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge. The most relaxing way to enjoy the stunning beauty of Three Gorges is on the sundeck or sitting at your private balcony with endless magnificent gorges scenery passing by. Your pulse races when you pass through the famous Kui Gate of Qutang Gorge which is the classic sight of 10 Yuan background of Renminbi. Besides viewing the scenery onboard, you will have the chance to go excursions along Three Gorges to White Emperor City, Lesser Three Gorges, Shennong Stream or Shennv Stream, Tribe of the Three Gorges and more sites.
- Recommended Visiting Time: about 1 day
Learn more about Three Gorges >>
Qutang Gorge of Three Gorges
No.3 Shennong Stream / Shennv Stream
Shennnong Stream is located at Badong County of Hubei, stretching about 60 kilometers from south to north. Travelers will switch to a smaller boat sailing along Shennong Stream and you can enjoy the peaceful gorge scenery by passing through Longchang Gorge, Yingwu Gorge and Shennong Gorge. On the deep cliff of the gorge, you can view the hanging coffins above. Also, you can experience the flavored Tujia minority folk culture.
Compared with Shennong Stream, Shennv Stream is more primitive. Close to Goddess Peak, Shennv Stream has a length of 15 kilometers and about 10 kilometers belongs to the original gorge. Experience will be similar to Shennnong Stream. You’ll first switch to a smaller boat from your ship and then sailing through Shennv Stream. Hanging coffins can be seen and Tujia minority singing and dancing show can be experienced.
- Recommended Visiting Time: about 2 hours
No.4 Shibaozhai Pagoda
Shibaozhai Pagoda, reputed as “Pearl of the Yangtze River”, has been praised as one of the “Top 7 Wonders in China” and the “World 8 Strange Constructions” by the US Discovery Channel. This pagoda is a red wooden pagoda built along the cliff facing with the Yangtze River. It is 12 storeys in total, with a height of 56 meters and the whole pagoda was made of wooden, without using any single nail in the construction. Travelers need to climb up to the pagoda where you can enjoy the panoramic view of the view in a different angle. Comfortable shoes are highly recommended.
- Recommended Visiting Time: about 2 hours
- Distance from Chongqing Downtown: 255 km, about 4 hours’ driving
Learn more about Shibaozhai Pagoda >>
No.5 Fengdu Ghost City
Some cruise ships arrange Fengdu Ghost City as the must-do site and some ships take it as the optional one. Fengdu Ghost City is a large complex of shrines, temples and monasteries dedicated to the afterlife located on Ming Mountain. You’ll have a learning about Chinese demons and beliefs of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Instead of visiting Fengdu Ghost City, some cruise hips will take you to its nearby attraction - Jade Emperor Scenic Area or Mount Shuanggui.
- Recommended Visiting Time: about 2-3 hours
- Distance from Chongqing Downtown: 150 km, about 2-3 hours’ driving
Learn more about Fengdu Ghost City >>
Fengdu Ghost City
To fully learn what to see and explore along the Yangtze River with different arrangements and experience, you can turn to All Shore Excursions along Yangtze River.
What Kinds of Activities Can I Enjoy Onboard?
There is no need to worry about you’ll be bored on a Yangtze River cruise. And you have concerned before, banish that idea right away. Any of the Yangtze cruise ships schedule so many activities that your life onboard can be almost as much fun. From the early morning, you can stretch your body on the sundeck by doing Tai Chi, to the night, you’ll throw yourselves in the singing and dancing shows. You can either be quiet or join in the crowds to enjoy full joy. Yes, there’s truly something for everyone.
Captain’s Welcome & Farewell Party
The captain and all crew will welcome guests with a warming party. It is usually held on the second day during your cruise. The crew members will perform folk dances and traditional music for the guests. Dinner and drink will be provided. At the end of the party the Captain will toast the guests and all will be welcomed onboard. During the party guests can have their photo taken with the Captain.
To say goodbye to the dear guests, the ship's crew will put on a final performance. This performance will feature more song and dance performances. The farewell performance is the way the crew says thank you for taking a Yangtze River cruise with them. Other special activities are during the party are arranged sometimes.
Cultural Lectures & Activities
To fully know about Yangtze River, Three Gorges Dam and Chinese culture, you can join to enjoy the lectures about the Yangtze River, as well, you can go with your partners to learn Chinese calligraphy, Taichi, play Mahjong, learn traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, etc. Enjoy every moment on cruise.
Evening Entertainment & Cabaret Shows
As the sun goes down on the Yangtze River, the lights turn up onboard as passengers are treated to a host of after-dinner entertainment. There are live performance, including folk dance, fashion show, comedians and much more to assure that you will not be bored during the evening. After the shows, you can treat yourselves a cup of beer in the bar or just breathe the gentle breeze before falling into sleep.
Spa, Gym, Swimming, Golfing, Reading & Kids Activities
To enjoy some personal time, many public facilities will satisfy your needs. Spa, massage, gym, swimming, surfing the Internet, golfing (only some cruise available)... can be done on the cruise. If you go with your kids, they can have their entertainment rooms for some activities also they can go to the reading room for some quiet reading time.
Captain on Yangtze Cruise
Play Taichi on Yangtze Cruise
Swimming Pool on Yangtze Cruise
Karaoke Room on Yangtze Cruise
How to Get to the Port Cities and Exact Ports to Board a Ship?
If you take the 4 days and 3 nights downstream cruise from Chongqing to Yichang, you will need to get to Chongqing first and then make a transfer from Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport or Railway Station(s) to Chongqing Chaotianmen Dock. Chaotianmen Dock has 14 separated piers. Different cruise companies use different piers. It is recommended to use our private car service that we can take you to the correct port and pier directly without any trouble. If you go by taxi, you can check the following info to make a transfer.
|Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport||Chaotianmen Dock||28km||About 0.5-1 hour|
|Chongqing Railway Station||6km||About 20 minutes|
|Chongqingxi Railway Station||21km||About 0.5-1 hour|
|Chongqingbei Railway Station (North Square)||11km||About 30 minutes|
|Chongqingbei Railway Station (South Square)||10km||About 20 minutes|
|Shapingba Railway Station||16km||About 30 minutes|
For travelers who take a 5 days and 4 nights upstream cruise from Yichang to Chongqing, you need to get to Yichang first and then transfer from Yichang Sanxia Airport or Yichang East Railway Station to Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal. Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal is the gathering place that all the cruise companies arrange buses running to Yichang Maoping Port or Sandouping Port to board your ship.
|From||To||Cruise Company||Running Time||Time Consuming|
|Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal||Maoping Port||
Yangtze Gold Cruises
Yangtze 2 Cruise
Yangtze Explorer Cruise
|16:00~21:00||About 2 hours|
|Sandouping Port||Yangtze 1 Cruise||19:00 - 20:00||About 1.5 hours|
Boarding Time, Check in Process & Other Tips
Chongqing to Yichang Cruises for Boarding: All the cruise ships will depart from Chongqing Chaotianmen Dock. Travelers can board the ship during 18:00-21:00 and the ship usually departs from Chongqing at around 21:00.
- Check in Time & Process: 18:00-21:00; Get to the Right Port/Pier→ Show Your Passport to the Staff and Collect Cruise Ticket → Follow the Floating Bridge and Board the Ship → Security Check → Check in
Yichang to Chongqing Cruises for Boarding: No matter which ship you take, you should first arrive at Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal for the arranged The buses will send you to Yichang Maoping Port or Yichang Sandouping Port (only for Yangtze 1 Cruise) when your ship docked. After free transfer service sending you to Maoping Port, you'll begin to embark and check in. The ship departs from Yichang on the following day.
- Check in Process: Arrive and Enter the Three Gorges Center Tourist Terminal → Show Your Passport to Get the Bus Ticket at the Window No.7/8 → Take the Tourist Bus to Maoping Port → Follow the Floating Bridge and Board the Ship → Security Check → Check in
▶ Learn more about: Yangtze Cruise Embarkation - Board Your Ship in Chongqing & Yichang
Chongqing Chaotianmen Dock
Boarding Service on a Yangtze Cruise
Disembarkation, Transportation & Other Tips
Chongqing to Yichang Cruises for Disembarkation: Sailing from Chongqing through Three Gorges, and you’ll arrive in Yichang for disembarkation. Most ships will disembark at Yichang Maoping Port and Yangtze 1 Cruise will arrive at Sandouping Port.
- Disembarkation Process: Arrive at Yichang Maoping Port in the morning → Pack your Luggage → Check Out → Three Gorges Dam Visiting → Take Arranged Buses from the Dam to Three Gorges Center Tourist Terminal. You may arrive at Yichang downtown area during 11:30~13:30. (You need to arrange transportation from Three Gorges Center Tourist Terminal to the airport / railway station by yourselves.)
Yichang to Chongqing Cruises for Disembarkation: After several days cruising on the Yangtze River from Yichang, you will finally arrive at Chongqing Chaotianmen Dock for leave. Usually, the ships will arrive at the dock around 09:00 in the morning. After getting off the ship, you can use private car, taxi or other public transports to catch up your trains or flights.
- Disembarkation Process: Arrive at Chongqing Chaotianmen Dock in the morning → Pack your Luggage → Check Out (You need to arrange transportation from Chaotianmen Dock to the airport / railway station by yourselves.)
Extend Your Yangtze Cruise Holiday
To Port Cities along Yangtze River
Taking a classic exploration for half day or 1 day in Chongqing City is a popular choice before or after your Yangtze River cruise. Chongqing itself has a lot of highlights for visitors’ exploration. Apart from its mouth-watering spicy hot pot famous for long, Chongqing always stimulates all visitors to experience its peculiar “8-dimensional” mountainous landform and multi-layered urban system with complicated interlaced roads and bridges. Reputed as the “Little Hong Kong”, Chongqing boasts one of the best night cityscapes with shining neon sketching its skyline every day. Moreover, there not only exist harmoniously both traditional Ba featured ancient architectural clusters and novel Internet famous lifestyles, but preserve the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of ancient carvings for mankind’s artistic culture and Karst landscape by nature’s skills as well, which contributes another hot idea for a half to 2 days’ short stay solo or in sized group. Check for All Chongqing Tours >>
>> 4 Days Chongqing Essence Tour with Yangtze Cruise (Chongqing / Yangtze / Yichang)
>> 5 Days Yichang Tour with Yangtze Cruise Experience (Yichang / Yangtze / Chongqing)
Chongqing City, a Mountain City in West China
Hongya Cave in Chongqing
To Other Hot Destinations in China
Since Chongqing and Yangtze River Cruise are usually planned as a middle part of a longer China trip, you are also recommended to do as most travelers to discover with more destinations to savor more amazing landscape, culture, history, folk culture, food, etc. Zhangjiajie with incredible Avatar Mountains, not far from Yichang, can be arranged before or after the cruise. Guilin with Karst landform wonders is usually put into the itinerary before the cruise with 2 to 3 days’ visiting. Chengdu with adorable giant pandas, Beijing with profound ancient royal Forbidden City, Shanghai with modern cityscape, Xian with impressing Terracotta Warriors, are also the hot destinations to combine with a Yangtze River cruise...
>> 6 Days Chongqing, Yangtze River & Zhangjiajie Exciting Tour (Chongqing / Yangtze Cruise / Yichang / Zhangjiajie)
>> 11 Days China Golden Triangle Tour with Yangtze River Cruise (Beijing / Xian / Chongqing / Yangtze Cruise / Yichang / Shanghai)
>> 13 Days Classic China Tour with Yangtze Cruise (Beijing / Xian / Guilin / Yangshuo / Chongqing / Yangtze Cruise / Yichang / Shanghai)
>> 15 Days China Yangtze Tour with Zhangjiajie Landscape & Guilin Karst (Shanghai / Guilin / Chongqing / Yangtze Cruise / Yichang / Zhangjiajie / Xian / Beijing)
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Guilin Yangshuo Bamboo Rafting
No matter you want to put port cities (Chongqing or Yichang) into your Yangtze River trip or cover several destinations together or even extend your Yangtze cruise tour all over China, www.yangtze-river-cruises.com can provide you best tour guides and experienced drivers with comfortable private cars in any of the destinations. Our English-speaking tour guide will accompany you all the way, showing you the best traveling route and telling beautiful stories in each of the destination. The tour can be tailor-made according to your group size, time, physical condition, plan, interests, budget and other special need. Please feel free to contact us if you need any help or customize the tour with free quotation!
Keep Readings of Yangtze River Cruise
- 2022 Latest News
- China Yangtze Tour Planning
- How to Book a Cruise
- How to Choose a Route
- How to Choose a Ship
- How to Choose a Cabin
- Get to Cruise Ports
- How to Leave Cruise Ports
- Best Time to Cruise
- What to Expect Onshore
- Onboard Experience
- What to Pack
- Tipping & Tipping Suggestions
- Yangtze Cruise FAQs & Tips
- Yangtze River Cruise Guide
- Customer Support Guide