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Famed for her beauty and feared for the destructive power unleashed when seasonal floods break her banks, the Yangtze River, or Chang Jiang, has long held an iconic place in Chinese culture, art and literature.

Sanctuary Cruises, Yangtze ExplorerRushing from the cold mountains of Qinghai across China’s vast hinterland to Shanghai and the East China Sea, the world’s third longest river gives life to some of China’s most fertile land, and has carved out scenery that has inspired poets and painters for millennia. The epic river journey through the Yangtze’s Three Gorges has long been considered amongst China’s premier spectacles. While some boats travel all the way between Chongqing and Shanghai, there is also a shorter three night route between Chongqing and Yichang, which is the stretch with the best scenery, including the Three Gorges.

The three gorges of Qutang, Wu and Xiling are the obvious highlight of any Yangtze river cruise. Qutang is the shortest but the most striking. At its narrowest it is just 100 meters wide, and the enormous rock cliffs on either side are dramatic and imposing. Wu (witches) Gorge is more verdant with a swirling mist often shrouding the jagged peaks. Xiling is the longest and least spectacular, but used to be the most dangerous, until the river was tamed. Then there is the dam itself – a giant construction resembling a science fiction film set.

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Suggested itineraries featuring the Yangtze River

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in the Yangtze River, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of the Yangtze River

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near the Yangtze River

    Our expert guides to exploring the Yangtze River

    Written by our specialists from their own experiences of visiting the Yangtze River, these guides will help you make the most of your time there. We share both our practical recommendations and the best ways to appreciate the Yangtze River at its best.

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      Yangtze River cruises in China: a need-to-know guide

      China can be overwhelming, so Audley specialist Heather suggests exploring it from a calmer perspective on a cruise of its greatest river, the Yangtze. She reveals the key sights, and what life’s like on board your Yangtze cruise ship.

    Ideas for experiencing the Yangtze River

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting the Yangtze River, and which use the best local guides.

    • Qutang Gorge, Yangtze River

      Victoria Cruises

      The Yangtze River

      There are a number of companies operating cruises on the Yangtze River, and Victoria Cruises is one of the best.

    • Suite on Sanctuary Cruises Yangtze Explorer

      Sanctuary Cruises

      The Yangtze River

      Cruising on the Yangtze River is a truly unique experience, with Sanctuary Cruises being the latest addition for the discerning traveler.