A Yangtze River Cruise through the Three Gorges

Yangtze River - Best Tours & Trips 2019

Flowing through the heart of China, the 4,000-mile-long Yangtze River offers a relaxing route of escape from the country's urban traffic and air pollution. Many Yangtze itineraries spend about nine days on the river and several more days in Shanghai and Beijing, one at the start and the other at the end of your voyage, depending on your itinerary. The cruises all stop at the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydro-electric dam project, and all sail through the Three Gorges, which, though flooded by the dam, remain a scenic wonder.
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Trip Type Trip Type Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Tour Styles

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 470 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

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Travelers Age

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Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

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Top Yangtze River Experiences and Attractions

Yangtze River Trip Reviews

59 Yangtze River Tour Reviews - Summary 100% Recommend

4.7 out of 5
Excellent 41
Great 18
Average 0
Disappointing 0
Terrible 0
Value
4.7
Guide
4.7
Activities
4.7
Lodging
4.7
Transportation
4.7
Meals
4.7

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Fabulous China trip

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

On October 13, 2016, we left for our trip to China & the Yangtze River Cruise. 27 people who couldn't wait to meet each other and most of all our tour guide, Mark Ma. To say that he's the best would be an understatement. Our trip was fabulous from the moment we met him til we boarded the plane, homeward bound. His knowledge of China is vast and his English is perfect. This is my 3rd trip with Smart Tours and I love traveling with them. The price is unbeatable for what we always get. From hotels, to transportation, tours and food Smart Tours can't be beat. The trip is physically demanding but the upside is I lost 6 pounds from so much walking. I can't wait for my next trip. Thanks!!

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Operator SmarTours

China's Hidden Gem

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

While China is a very hectic, very overwhelming country, it is also a country filled with incredible natural beauty. For the average tourist, these beautiful sites are largely inaccessible or extremely difficult to access due to a combination of language barriers and lack of public transportation. One of these gorgeous areas is located between Yichang and Chongqing: the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River.

With this in mind, many cruise companies have begun offering multi-day trips down the Yangtze River, making the relatively inaccessible easily accessible. One such cruise company is Victoria Cruises. They have a range of vessels and itineraries to suit one’s needs. We decided to hop aboard their most prestigious boat, the Victoria Jenna, for a five night/four day cruise luxurious cruise through the gorges. Newly renovated this year, the ship exudes class and comfort.

The rooms aboard the Victoria Jenna were clean and quite spacious considering we were on a ship. To compliment the five-star standard within the rooms itself, the Victoria Jenna offered ample facilities for it’s guests. Whether you want to lounge on the rooftop or grab a drink at the lovely Yangtze Club bar, there’s something for everyone. The dining options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner were fantastic; the Victoria Jenna offered an array of food from Asian to Western cuisine.

Of course, one of the main reason people cruise is for the excursions. We were lucky enough to go on all of the included and optional tours offered on the Victoria Jenna, and I’m thrilled that we did. They outsource local guides that are truly knowledgable about each and every site.

Last but not least, I was astounded by the staff; never have I seen a staff so attentive and friendly. A very special shoutout goes to Dick, our Cruise Director, who made sure that everything we needed was taken care of; Steven, our River Guide, who not only knew the in’s and out’s of the Yangtze, but also taught Mahjong and Chinese 101, on top of playing MC for the week; and Maggie, our fantastic waitress for every meal in the Executive Lounge, who not only knew us by name, but knew all of our food and drink preferences as well.

I wouldn't cruise down the river with any company other than Victoria Cruises! It was truly the highlight of my month-long journey in China.

Thanks again!
Sarah

Founder, The Five Foot Traveler

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Operator Victoria Cruises

A trip of a lifetime enhanced by the input of a brilliant CEO who was extremely knowledgeable of all aspects of her job

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

A trip of a lifetime enhanced by the input of a brilliant CEO who was extremely knowledgeable of all aspects of her job. Saw some wonderful sights met the nicest of travelling partners and survived the challenge of so many different foods and meeting so, so many natives.

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Operator G Adventures

Awesome China

4.0
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0

SHANGHAI Hotel: Excellent. Shanghai Tours: Excellent. BEIJING Hotel: Excellent. Beijing Tours: Excellent

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Operator SmarTours

Excellent intro to china

4.0
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0

Excellent intro to china

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Operator G Adventures

Beautiful, fun, great-value river cruise on the Yang-Tze River

4.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0

We had a great time on this cruise. My wife and I chose this as the end of our 3 week adventurous honeymoon throughout Western rural china. It was also our first river cruise. We'll definitely be doing another.

Overall, the ship we were on, the Victoria Liana, was a little old. Still very nice and comfortable but some of the floors (decks) were slightly warped, some of the furnishings were a bit worn. Normal wear and tear. Nothing to make it look shabby but it also did not look 5 start ultimate luxury.

The price was right - compared to other trips we saw we got an amazing deal. We also got an even better deal because on entering the ship they tried to upsell us a suite. We did the tour, they give us a price, I counter-offered about 1/4 of that and they said no. I told them that we were happy to stay in the regular cabin but if no other guests offered to pay more for the Presidential suite, then our offer still stood. Sure enough, shortly before leaving port the Front Desk Manager told us we could have the suite for the price we offered. What a deal!

For about $200 more, total, we got a private whole deck to our selves in the bow with our own lounge chairs, a large living room with huge windows on 2 sides and a nice bedroom. It really made the trip awesome. Especially since the top outside deck looked like it got crowded when going through some of the most scenic areas. the privacy, especially on our honeymoon was appreciated.

Overall, the staff was very friendly and polite and spoke good english, or good enough. Everyone was local chinese except for a the Cruise Director who was a Bulgarian woman with excellent english skills. Some of the attractions and day tours were included and some were optional and extra charge, though not outrageously priced like some other cruises we've heard about.

I would be mindful of ordering wine as we got a bottle of white that was from 2003. No bueno. Other than that, food was decent. All the western tourists - about 35 in total - ate in a separate dining room. Buffet. There were also about 200 or so local Chinese passengers. I assume they paid a cheaper 'local' price but they all ate in a much larger dining room and had a different local chinese menu. It felt slightly weird being segregated that way but not too awkard.

The views were amazing. Watching peaceful countryside, farms, then highrise mini cities, then gorges and mountains go by was interesting, entertaining and relaxing.

They had some nightly entertainment which the staff put on which was enjoyable if not a highlight.

Overall we had a great voyage and are glad we selected this company. There are definitely more luxurious options but we got a huge bang for our buck and really enjoyed the trip.

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Operator Victoria Cruises

Yangtze River Tours and Travel Guide

Yangtze River Attractions & Landmarks Guide

The Yangtze River flows for nearly 4,000 miles through the heart of China, essentially dividing the country between north and south and offering a relaxing way to escape China’s traffic-choked streets and urban air pollution. The full-length river cruises cover about 1,400 miles of the 4,000. 

You don't have to miss out on China’s two major cities: many cruise itineraries start either in Beijing, China’s capital, or Shanghai, its most vibrant city. Yangtze River cruise itineraries often include multi-day visits to both on either end of the river voyage.

If you start in Shanghai, you can explore both old colonial-era Shanghai, along the waterfront Bund District, as well as the ultra-modern new city (using your ship as hotel and restaurant). If you start in Beijing, sightseeing includes the 15th-century-era imperial Forbidden City, huge Tiananmen Square -- regarded as the center of the Middle Kingdom -- and a trip to see part of the Great Wall, which lies outside the city.

Once on the cruise itself, the itinerary may include a stop in the ancient Chinese capital of Nanjing and another at Suzhou, known as the “Venice of the East” for its network of canals.

Three Gorges

Yangtze cruises of whatever length all stop at the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydro-electric dam project. While extremely controversial during its construction because it displaced more than a million people -- as well as flooding archaeological sites and altering the landscape of the scenic Three Gorges -- it's still an engineering marvel.

The ships all sail in daylight through the Three Gorges, which, though flooded by the dam and are now a reservoir, remain a scenic wonder. The Three Gorges are Xiling -- the longest -- Wu (which includes the gorgeous 12 Peaks), and Qutang, where you'll pass by sheer cliffs. 

The river ships typically stop at villages along the route to visit pagodas, sacred mountains and other sites.

Cruise Lengths

Some itineraries cover just the distance between Chongging and Yichang, which includes the Three Gorges. These take four or five days, depending on whether you're traveling downstream or upstream (Chongqing to Yichang is downstream and the faster trip).

Some longer Yangtze itineraries (approximately 11 to 16 days), will split more land time with time afloat.

Top Yangtze River Travel Companies

All Yangtze River cruises, tours, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.7 for all Yangtze River trips.

60 trips from 35 tour companies with 59 reviews

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