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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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Audley Travel specialist Lucy

Start planning your tailor-made trip to the Yangtze River by calling one of our China specialists at 617-223-4715

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.

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.

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.

Map of the Yangtze River

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near the Yangtze River