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China River Cruises

A China river cruise involves an unforgettable trip along Asia’s longest waterway, the Yangtze, but whichever itinerary you choose, it offers much more besides. Depending on which direction you’re travelling along the river, you’ll begin your journey in one of the country’s most celebrated cities and end it in the other. Shanghai and Beijing both feature on China river cruise itineraries either before or after you set sail and serve to make the experience all the more special. There’s often the opportunity for an excursion to see the awesome terracotta warriors of Xian and one you’ve set sail, the chance to soak up some of the country’s most beautiful scenery in the Three Gorges region and see one of its most impressive feats of engineering, the Three Gorges Dam.

Suggested Read: The Enduring Majesty of the Yangtze 

China Ports

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Beijing

China’s gargantuan capital is one of the world’s most populous cities, a true tourist mecca and home to well over 21 million people. As well as being a sprawling, modern ...

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Shanghai

The world’s most populous city and China’s largest, Shanghai started off life as an unassuming fishing village on the Yangtze River and continued to grow and develop throughout the centuries under ...

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Xian

Located in north-western China in the Shaanxi province, Xian is one of China’s most historic and ancient cities, famous today for being the gateway to one of the world’s most celebrated ...

Ports along the Yangtze

Shanghai 

Shanghai is one of the world’s most exciting cities and every bit the neon-soaked metropolis you’d expect it to be. Its soaring, colourful skyline can be best taken in from atop the city’s Financial Centre, which is the world’s highest observatory. There’s plenty of history to explore in the city too and indeed, its most popular attraction is its stunning waterfront area the Bund, which offers a fantastic mix of architectural styles. As you’d imagine from its name, the famous Oriental Pearl Tower, though a relatively modern landmark, pays homage to the country’s traditional architecture, while the Old French Concession area offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s colonial past.

Beijing 

If you want to sample a little of everything that China’s most famous for, you’ll be glad your river cruise holiday includes a visit to Beijing. Excursions are available from the Chinese capital to a number of points along the Great Wall of China, with the most popular being at Badaling. Take a trip to Mutianyu however and you’ll probably encounter fewer crowds, and the Wall here is fully restored. These days, the Forbidden City is known as the Palace Museum, though it’s far more than row upon row of exhibits. Here you can explore the sprawling residence of emperors-past and those who served them, as well as the temples they worshipped in. The Summer Palace is another key tourist attraction set in expansive and tranquil gardens.

Xian 

If your China river cruise stops at Chongqing, you’ll have the chance to see China’s most celebrated archaeological discovery. Xian was once the residence of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang and when he died, he was buried in huge chambers with this clay representation of his army to protect him in the afterlife. Today, many of the statues have been unearthed and make for a truly incredible sight, even more so when you realise that the majority of the army is still buried. 

The Three Gorges 

China river cruises are not just about incredible cities and archaeological sites, however. The Three Gorges is an area of awesome natural beauty and history, consisting of three limestone ridges. You’ll enter through the dramatic Qutang Gorge, while the Lesser Three Gorges can only be accessed by a smaller riverboat and give way to incredible sights such as the hanging coffins of the ancient Ba people. The Witches Gorge offers the finest of scenery, while the dam itself offers the chance to explore and learn about this fantastic feat of engineering for yourself.

China river cruise travel tips

  • You’ll need a visa if visiting China
  • The currency is the Renminbi
  • Mandarin is widely spoken in many of the places you’ll visit, though other Chinese languages are spoken and English is also growing in use, especially in tourist-centric areas

China Itineraries

Beijing

Imperial Jewels of China - Beijing to Shanghai

19 Mar 2019 - 13 Nights

From Beijing (Tianjin), China to , Shanghai on board Viking Emerald

Includes FREE Silver Select drinks package, FREE pre-paid gratuities and HUGE savings of up to £1,000 per couple on selected 2019 sailings

Viking Cruises logo WAS £4095
FROM £4015pp
Xi'an

Beijing to Shanghai

20 Mar 2019 - 13 Nights

From London (Dover), United Kingdom to London (Dover) on board Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

APT Cruising logo CALL
Xi'an

Wonders of China

20 Mar 2019 - 14 Nights

From Beijing (Tianjin), China to , Shanghai on board Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

Scenic River Cruises logo CALL

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