Yangtze River

The Yangtze is an incredibly long river, stretching for over 4,000 miles and passing through some of China's greatest cities. The section that is most popular with cruise ships runs from Chongqing to Yichang and in recent years a great deal of change has been seen, due to the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, which was completed in 2009.

The dam has dramatically changed the landscape of the region and caused the river's water level to rise by around 175m, which has transformed the scenery that you will experience if you take a cruise on this river. Fortunately, when you consider the height of the surrounding mountains, 175 m is not particularly significant and the dramatic scenery that a cruise on this river passes through has largely been preserved.

Bearing in mind that many of the mountains that the river runs by are up to 2,000m high, you are unlikely to notice that the water level is somewhat higher than before. It is also particularly interesting to see how dramatic the relocation of the people from the now flooded villages has been. The inhabitants of the now flooded areas have been relocated to newly constructed cities nearby.

One of the main reasons you might be interested in taking this cruise is to view the Three Gorges. The Wu Gorge has twelve peaks and as you enter this part of the river you are sure to be impressed by the two mountain passages that your ship has to negotiate in order to enter it. The longest of all the gorges is Xiling Gorge, which is the final one you will see when you visit on a cruise. In the past, when the route was used for trading, this was regarded as the most treacherous part of the river, as there are unpredictable rapids and whirlpools.

The dramatic scenery on part of the river is only one reason why you would want to take this cruise, the other is that it offers an incredible opportunity to explore the cities that are either on the river or very close by. One of the most impressive cities that you will get to see and explore is Fengdu, which is also known as the City of Ghosts. All across the city you will find numerous ancient temples, statues and shrines, which together make a fascinating attraction for visitors.

When you are booking a cruise on the Yangtze it is important to remember that there are two main categories of vessel; those operated by Chinese companies and those operated by international cruise lines. You should bear in mind, when making your reservation that the standards on the Chinese vessels are probably not going to be as high as those offered by international operators. Just because it says first class on a Chinese vessel does not mean it is going to be the first class standard you are used to in the West; therefore, for peace of mind, book international.

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