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Yangtze Cruise Shore Excursion Tips & Advice | How to Plan Yangtze Cruise Excursions

In the best part of Yangtze River - the Three Gorges, there is not only breathtaking scenery to feast your eyes, but also a Ba and Shu culture accumulated by thousands years to meet your craving for Chinese ancient culture. Therefore all cruise companies arranged multiple shore excursions and experienced activities to enrich guests’ Yangtze cruise tour.

Different cruise companies may arrange different included and optional excursion sites. So what kinds of ashore excursions you might visit during your Yangtze River cruise tour? How to choose your Yangtze cruise ship according to your shore excursions preference? How to plan your own Yangtze cruise excursions? And more tips you should know about shore excursions for Yangtze River cruise tour. Continuing your reading, you will find answers of the questions above.

Type of Shore Excursions for Yangtze River Cruises

In General, shore excursions of Yangtze River cruise can be divided into 4 types, which are cultural sites, natural sites, featured shows & activities, and the massive construction - Three Gorges Dam. More information about all shore excursions for Yangtze cruise tour, please visit Attractions along Yangtze River Cruise & Shore Excursions for Different Cruise Companies.

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Cultural Sites for Shore Excursions

Most cultural shore excursions are near Fengdu County, including Fengdu Ghost City, Jade Emperor Scenic Area, Shibaozhai Pagoda, Shuanggui Mountain, Fengdu Xiaoguanshan Folk Cultural Park etc. Besides, there are still some other famous cultural sites such as Shibaozhai Pagoda in Zhong County, White Emperor City in Fengjie County, Quyuan Temple in Zigui County, Yichang, etc.

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Shore Excursions Cultural Sites

Shore Excursions Cultural Sites

Natural Splendors for Shore Excursions

To give passages a better view of the Three Gorges, almost all cruise companies arranged special small boat drifting experiences on top branches of Three Gorges during the cruise tour. During the drifting tour, you would be transferred to small boat and better enjoy the natural scenery, immerse in the wonders of zigzagging watercourse, enjoy the canzonet singing by boat trackers, learn about the unique local minority culture and explore the mysterious ancient hanging coffins. Different cruise companies/ships may arrange different branches to take the drifting tour. Therefore beside enjoy the astonishing scenery on the main stream of Three Gorges (Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, Xiling Gorge), you may also have a chance to immerse into the astonishing natural wonders in the branches, such as Shennong Stream, Shennv Stream, Lesser Three Gorges, Mini Three Gorges, etc.

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Three Gorges

The Three Gorges

Featured Shows & Activities for Shore Excursions

Two large-scale real landscape shows are played on Three Gorges, one is called Feng Yan San Guo, and the other is Return to Three Gorges. Feng Yan San Guo Show is about the culture and history of the Three Kingdom about over 1,800 year ago. Featuring poetry culture, the Return to the Three Gorges is a newly performance by talented director - Zhang Yimou.

If you are looking for a shore excursion activity that can better explore the ancient pass of Ba and Shu Culture, don’t miss the Tribe of Three Gorges Scenic Spot. It is praised as the “Protected Center of the Popular Culture and Art of the Three Gorges”. It is the only large scenic spot which would not be influenced by the Three Gorges Dam. History seems stopped here, leaving behind a piece of ancient and mysterious idyllic land with abundant Ba Culture and Chu Culture.

Feng Yan San Guo Show

Feng Yan San Guo Show

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Three Gorges Dam Site, Ship Lift & Ship Locks

The Three Gorges Dam, situated in the Yichang, nearby the Xiling Gorge, is the world's largest hydroelectric project, has handled a flow equivalent to 90% of its maximum capacity. Tourists can appreciate peerless construction of the Dam in different angles, learn the background history of the great dam project, enjoy the scenic area and landscape around the dam. If you are visiting during the right time, you may have a chance to view the spectacular view of flood discharge. Nowadays, there is no Yangtze River Cruise Ships would pass through the Three Gorges five-level ship lock. However, visitors still could appreciate the five stage ship locks at the site and could choose to experience the amazing world largest and most complicated ship lift with the visiting of the dam site. Almost all Yangtze Cruise companies have arranged to change to small boats to experience the optional shore excursions of the ship lift, among all ships, Yangtze 1 cruise is the only one that passangers can take the ship lift directly.

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Three Gorges Dam Site

Three Gorges Dam Site

Special Shore Excursion Experiences on Yangtze Explorer

If you would like some unique shore excursion experiences, such as visiting a nuclear plant, wandering around the unbelievable underground museum or visiting the authentic trackers’ village. There is no real alternative to take Yangtze Explorer ship. If you visiting in the right time and take the special route of Yangtze Explorer, you may have a chance to enjoy enchanting sceneries of UNESCO natural heritage site of Shennongjia, world only place to close up with wild golden monkeys, seek the tracks of wild men, and enjoy a cool summer holiday, etc. If you are interested in explore trip to Shennongjia, please check more about Special Itinerary of Yangtze Explorer.

Shennongjia National Nature Reserve

Shennongjia National Nature Reserve

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Choose a Cruise Ship by Shore Excursions

Different cruise companies arranged different attractions for shore excursions. Some shore excursions are arranged by the cruise companies which mean the entrance fees of the sites are included in your cruise fare. While, others are optional sites that you need to pay the charge for sightseeing. Shore excursions is an important part of Yangtze River cruise tour, if you’ve done your homework and already have own preferences for shore excursions, now you can find yourself a perfect cruise ship based on cruise companies’ (Victoria Cruises, Century Cruises, President Cruises, Yangtze Explorer, Changjiang Cruises, Yangtze Gold Cruises) shore excursions arrangement.

The differences of the classic Chongqing Yichang cruises for your reference:

(Note: 1. In the above chart, “Up” represents the Yichang to Chongqing 5-day upstream cruise, “Down” represents the Chongqing to Yichang 4-day downstream cruise, “Both” means no matter you take the upstream or downstream cruises, you may always have a chance to tour around the site. 2. “Arranged” means the entrance fees of the sites are included in your cruise fare. While, “Optional” means there are extra charges need to be paid for sightseeing. 2. Extra charge for optional shore excursions may varies from cruise companies and scenic spots. For more specific information about the extra charge, please feel free to contact us. )

Tips and Notes for Yangtze River Cruise Shore Excursions

  1. Arranged & Optional Shore Excursions: The ARRANGED shore excursions are included in your quotation, so you could visit the sites without extra charge. However, if you do not visit the sites, the fees of arranged shore excursion sites are not refunded. If you do not visit the shore excursions, you could stay on the ship to enjoy some leisure time. And for your safety, you are not allowed to leave your ship on your own. See more about Yangtze River Cruise Onboard Activities & Things to Do.
  2. The OPTIONAL shore excursions are prepared based on the number of visitors who want to go. You can visit if there are 30 or more people interested (the number of visitors may be adjusted based on the real situation). You have the final decision where to go or not on your own. If yes, tell the reception desk who would register for you and receive your pay in site.
  3. Ship Guide for Shore Excursions: All the land excursions arranged by the cruiser are in groups escorted by ship guide and guide from the excursion site. No private tours for this part.
  4. How & When to Book the Optional Excursions: As for the optional shore excursions, you could choose to go it or not totally based on your interests and likes. There is no need to book the optional excursions in advance. If you want to go, please tell the reception desk when getting onboard.
  5. How to Know When to Go Shore Excursions: You can have clear idea about what you will do every day by listening to the broadcast with exact time, or checking the daily schedule sheet delivered to your cabin or suites.
  6. Physical Demands: Visiting shore excursions like Shibaozhai Pagodas, Fengdu Ghost City etc. may need travelers to climb hundreds of steps or hiking for a distance, therefore wearing comfortable shoes or sneakers would be a wise choice. For people in poor physical condition, you can bring alpenstocks with you to save the energy while hiking. Or you can choose not climbing to the top, but find a nice place to sit down, appreciate the beautiful views around from the bottom and enjoy some fresh air.
  7. More Tips for Shore Excursions: If you take a summer cruise tour, you need to pay more attention to the weather forecast, because it’s the rainy season in Three Gorges. If the weather is cloudy outside, you may bring umbrella or rain gear with you and wear anti-skid shoes while shore excursing. Check more information about Yangtze River Cruise Weather & What to Wear | Best Time to Cruise on Yangtze River.
Tour Guide

Ship Guide for Shore Excursions

Reception Desk Onboard

Book the Optional Excursions

Physical Demands for Shore Excursion

Physical Demands for Shore Excursion

Best Time to Cruise

Best Time to Cruise

How to Plan Shore Excursions for Yangtze Cruise Tour?

In most cases, the cruise company would arrange 3 shore excursions (included in the cruise fare) during your upstream/downstream cruise tour, visit a historical site, experience a small boat drifting and appreciate the grand Three Gorges Dam by touring around the attractions site.

However, if this is your first time to cruise on Yangtze River, add 2-3 optional excursion sites in your tour calendar would absolutely make your journey perfect. Each site has different highlights. For example Jade Emperor Scenic Area and Shibaozhai Pagoda are all belong to historical and cultural sites, but Jade Emperor Scenic Area takes the Chinese root culture "Taoism" as the core. Shibaozhai Pagoda is 12-story, 18th century temple built on the northern bank of Yangtze River which represents one of the gems of Chinese Architecture, an architectural delight.

Almost all featured shows and experiential activities for shore excursions are require extra payment, but we can guarantee that these shows and activities are well worth what you paid.

Large-scale live performance are always arranged in evening, the Feng Yan San Guo show takes the Yangtze River as background, magnificent Three Gorges as performing stage, historical culture as main theme, and the spiritual loyalty as soul, which presents a cultural banquet for audience to Zhongxian. The Return to the Three Gorges show is a newly created on-site live performance by famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou, this show is mainly about Chinese traditional poetry culture. Believe me! You will be so touched by the electrifying live performance.

A shore excursion to tribe of Three Gorges scenic spot and ship lift in Three Gorges Dam Site are two daytime experiential activities you can’t miss. One is praised as the “Protected Center of the Popular Culture and Art of the Three Gorges”, the ancient and mysterious idyllic land with abundant Ba Culture and Chu Culture. The other is not only the largest but also the most sophisticated ship lift in the world. So meaningful and representative of these two experience activities, how can you miss it?

To save you time and energy on planning shore excursions or finding the right Yangtze cruise ships, you can directly contact us and tell your interests, needs and wants to our experienced travel consultants, they are more than willing to help.

► Learn more about How to Plan a Yangtze Cruise Tour | How to Plan a China Yangtze Tour

Jade Emperor Scenic Area

Privileges for Early Booking

Shibaozhai Pagoda

Shibaozhai Pagoda

The Return to the Three Gorges

The Return to the Three Gorges Show

Tribe of Three Gorges

Tribe of Three Gorges

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