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China River Cruises 2024/2025

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China Travel Guide

Booking a China River Cruise is like stepping into a live-action scroll painting where majestic landscapes, ancient temples, and bustling city skylines all come together. It's a place where the modern and the historical intertwine along the water's edge. As you sail down the mighty Yangtze or the picturesque Li River, you're offered front-row seats to some of China's most breathtaking scenery, including the dramatic Three Gorges and the ethereal karst mountains of Guilin. On these cruises, you don't just witness China's cultural wealth—you live it. Imagine floating past villages that have stood for centuries and walking through cities where every corner tells a story. From the comfort of your cruise ship, you can experience the very heart of China. With river cruise volume buys plus our low everyday prices you can save up to 50% versus the brochure price! Book your China river cruise today with AffordableTours.com, your discounted river cruise headquarters.

China Travel Guide
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Showing 1 - 19 River Cruises

Sail Date Operator Ship Departs Returns Length Price
Feb 28, 2024EmeraldEmerald HarmonyHanoiSiem Reap21$10,275
May 09, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipShanghaiBeijing14$3,249
May 16, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipShanghaiBeijing14$2,849
Jun 13, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipShanghaiBeijing14$3,049
Aug 22, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipShanghaiBeijing14$2,999
Aug 29, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipShanghaiBeijing14$3,029
Sep 05, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipShanghaiBeijing14$3,229
Sep 12, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipShanghaiBeijing14$3,429
Sep 14, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipShanghaiBeijing14$3,349
Oct 03, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipShanghaiBeijing14$3,249
Oct 10, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipShanghaiBeijing14$3,399
Oct 12, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipShanghaiBeijing14$3,169
Oct 17, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipShanghaiBeijing14$3,249
Oct 24, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipShanghaiBeijing14$3,049
Nov 03, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipBeijingShanghai11$2,049
Nov 05, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipBeijingShanghai11$2,049
Nov 07, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipBeijingShanghai11$2,049
Nov 19, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipBeijingShanghai11$2,049
Dec 03, 2024Gate1Victoria Cruises ShipBeijingShanghai11$1,779

China Travel Guide

China River Cruises Highlights

  • Chongqing: Chongqing, most of the Yangtze River cruises kick off here. It's a bustling place with a spicy hot pot waiting to warm your belly. The city is a blend of modern vibes and ancient times, with sites like the old town of Ciqikou and the futuristic skyline.
  • The Great Wall of China: No trip to China is complete without a visit to the Great Wall. Stretching thousands of miles, it's an iconic symbol of China's historical defense against invasions.
  • Yichang: Downriver is Yichang, where the Three Gorges Dam showcases China's engineering might. It's less crowded here, and you can relax, enjoy the views, or dig into the local street food scene. Plus, there's easy access to the stunning Three Gorges themselves.
  • Forbidden City in Beijing: Dive into the world of ancient Chinese emperors. The Forbidden City is a vast palace complex full of history and grandeur.
  • Wuhan: In Wuhan, you'll find a city famous for its cherry blossoms and the ancient Yellow Crane Tower. It's a mix of history and education with plenty of universities around. Don't miss out on trying the local noodles – they're a treat!
  • Terracotta Army in Xi'an: Discover the underground army built to protect Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife. These life-sized figures are a unique snapshot of ancient military history.
  • Three Gorges: Cruise through the stunning Three Gorges on the Yangtze River, where natural beauty meets ancient traditions.
  • Temple of Heaven in Beijing: A masterpiece of architectural and landscape design, where emperors would pray for good harvests.
  • Mount Huangshan: Often the subject of traditional Chinese paintings, these misty mountains offer some of China's most stunning scenery.
  • Lijiang's Ancient Town: Experience the tranquility of this UNESCO World Heritage site, with its beautiful canals and bridges.
  • Shanghai: Shanghai, This isn't just a cruise port; it's a world-class city. From the Bund's iconic skyline to the serene Yu Garden, Shanghai is where the future meets the past. China's river ports open doors to experiences that are as diverse as they are dynamic. Starting from the spicy streets of Chongqing to the high-tech hustle of Shanghai, each stop brings its own flavor. Cruising here means you'll dock right in the heart of it all – just step off the boat, and the adventure continues. When your journey wraps up, you'll realize that each port wasn't just a stop on the map; it was a highlight of your travel story.

China River Cruises Travel Tips

  • For the best scenery and weather, plan your China river cruise along the Yangtze River in the spring (from April to May) or in the autumn (September to November).
  • The cities along the Yangtze River include Shanghai, Wuhan, and Chongqing (where the river cruise usually begins), or Yichang or Shanghai (where the river cruise typically ends).
  • Most of the river cruises offer rail/air travel to get to major cities from and to river cruise ports.
  • Pack only what you will need. Therefore, make sure you have a passport or birth certificate with raised seal, photo I.D., and the basics, such as suntan lotion/oil (with a sun protection rating or SPR of at least 15), toothbrush/toothpaste, brush/comb, aspirin, shaver, and hygiene items. 
  • Take a camera that will give you high-resolution and professional shots of the attractions and scenery.
  • Purchase a universal plug adapter to stay connected.
  • Daywear and sightseeing apparel should be conservative and include a lightweight windbreaker (when traveling in the spring or fall); comfortable walking shoes or sandals, t-shirts, jeans, or lightweight slacks, shirts, or blouses.
  • You will have to take off your shoes, including socks, when visiting Buddhist temples.
  • Dresses and pantsuits should be worn by ladies, and jackets with ties should be worn by men at formal onboard dinners.

China River Cruises Things To Do

  • Beijing
    Beijing

    As the capital of China, Beijing provides several main attractions that should be included on any river cruise tour of China. The sprawling city's history stretches back to ancient times (about 3 millennia). Yet the Chinese metropolis is known as much for its modern skyline as it is for its grand historic sites.  

    Best Time To Visit

    Visit Beijing in the spring or fall, when the temperatures are pleasant and the weather is sunnier.  

     

    You Should Know

    The Great Wall of China spans 13,171 miles. The "Wall" represents several fortification networks that were built across China's northern borders to safeguard Chinese empires and states against nomadic tribes. It was opened to tourists in 1957. The Summer Palace is made up of a large series of gardens, lakes, and palatial buildings. Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake are the most popular sections at the site. Motorists find that it is easier to get around by bike than by car during "rush" hour.  
  • Xian
    Xian

    River cruise guests usually take a high-speed train from Beijing to Xian during this part of their river cruise China tour. Xian's history spans back three millennia, which makes Xian one of the few cities in the world to have this distinction. China's Silk Road also begins in Xian City.  

    Best Time To Visit

    The fall and spring offer visitors better sightseeing opportunities and temperatures.  

     

    You Should Know

    Xian is home to the funerary statuary known as the Terracotta Army – sculptures that depict armies of the first Chinese Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. The relics were created to protect the ruler in the afterlife. Savor Biangbiang noodles and guan tang baozi in Xian eateries.  
  • Chongqing
    Chongqing

    From Xian, visitors normally travel by high-speed rail to the city of Chongqing, the true beginning point for river cruising down the Yangtze River. Chongqing is the third-largest city in China and sits in the center of a narrow peninsula. It is surrounded by the Jialing and Yangtze rivers. Two main pedestrian areas make Chongqing walker-friendly and its sites easily accessible. Its epicenter is Jiefangbei Square.  

    Best Time To Visit

    Visit Chongqing during the more temperate times of the year, or the spring and fall.  

     

    You Should Know

    Although Chongqing, at first sight, may appear to be a concrete jungle, it is also home to Eling Park, set on a hill in the narrowest part of the city's peninsula. The park is known for its viewing platform, covered bridge, and lake. The city's Nanshan Botanical Garden is famed for its large garden of Camellia flowers. The city is known for its Fuling pickle, or zha cai, which is regularly eaten here.
  • Three Gorges Dam
    Three Gorges Dam

    This concrete gravity dam is 7,660 feet in length and rises 607 feet. Approximately 37 million cubic yards of concrete and 463,000 metric tons of steel make up the structure. Because it submerges vast areas of the Wu, Xiling, and Qutang gorges for almost 400 miles upstream, the dam's resulting reservoir allows oceangoing ships to navigate inland from Shanghai to Chongqing.  

    Best Time To Visit

    The best seasons to visit the 3 Rivers Gorge Dam is during the spring or fall when the days are clearer and the temperatures are pleasant.  

     

    You Should Know

    The dam is the most productive hydroelectric dam worldwide, with the capacity to generate approximately 22,500 watts of electricity.  
  • Ghost City of Fengdu
    Ghost City of Fengdu

    The Fengdu Ghost City is usually the first spot that a river cruise ship coming from Chongqing will visit. The site used to be a burial area with shrines and temples and a small town. However, because of the building of the 3 Gorges Dam, the ghostly city is now underwater. Nevertheless, a hill and several temples remain behind the dam, which still can be seen.  

    Best Time To Visit

    Plan your sojourn during the months of April or May or September/October.  

     

    You Should Know

    The Door of Hell at the site features brightly painted images on frescoes about demons, including statuary. According to Chinese legend, Fengdu is the place where the devil resides. Spirits in the afterlife either go to Heaven or Fengdu.
  • Fuling
    Fuling

    Sitting at the confluence of the Yangtze and Wu rivers, Fuling is located in the southeastern part of Chongqing municipality and was once the capital of the Ba Kingdom.  

    Best Time To Visit

    Visit Fuling during the spring or fall, when the temperatures are pleasant.  

     

    You Should Know

    Yutai Shan ("Rain Platform" Mountain), was once a place where ancient people prayed for rain. The site is close to Wulong County, reputed to be a national geological park.
  • Wuhan
    Wuhan

    Located on the central plain of China next to the Yangtze River, Wuhan was the most prosperous city in this part of China in the late 1800s. It is now known as a major economic, cultural, financial, transportation, and educational hub.  

    Best Time To Visit

    To take advantage of a more pleasant climate, visit the city in the spring or fall.  

     

    You Should Know

    Jade sculptures and silk flowers are popular souvenirs. Take a long walk in the East Lake ecological scenic area, which is also home to China's largest city lake.
  • Shanghai
    Shanghai

    Shanghai is both a financial and cultural mecca. It features traditional gardens, ancient sites, and some of the tallest buildings in the world. The Bund in Shanghai oozes energy similar to London and New York City. The city boasts its own cuisine and dialect and is home to two large international airports. You can tour the Yangtze Delta for up to six days, visa-free when visiting Shanghai. From the city, it is easy to take a river cruise or bullet train to other ports or attractions in China.  

    Best Time To Visit

    Plan your Shanghai visit for the spring or fall.    

     

    You Should Know

    The top TripAdvisor activity is strolling the Bund promenade, featuring beautiful skyline views of the city's skyscrapers and colonial-era structures. Visit Zhujiajiao Water Town, with its bridges, canals, and architecture – a place where you can take a trip to the countryside.  

China River Cruise Packages

  • Getting There

    Getting to your China River cruise start point is pretty straightforward. Most cruises along the Yangtze River, for instance, kick off in bustling cities like Chongqing or Shanghai, which are well connected by air from both international and domestic locations. Once you land, you can often get a transfer straight to the port – just check with your cruise operator. These ports are set up for tourists, so they're easy to navigate. If you're cruising the Li River, your adventure will usually begin in Guilin. This city is less than two hours by plane from major hubs like Beijing and Shanghai. From Guilin's airport, it's just a short hop to the boats. Remember, cruising in China means the journey's just as amazing as the destination!

  • The Perfect Time for a China River Cruise

    When's the best time to take a river cruise in China? Well, it depends on what you're looking for. Weather-wise, spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) are the golden times. You'll get mild temperatures and less rain, making it comfortable to explore.

    The Yangtze River can get pretty hot and sticky in the summer, and it's also when the rains hit. But if you don't mind the heat, you'll see the river at its most dramatic with lush landscapes. Plus, the summer is when you'll find the best deals and fewer crowds.

    Winter cruises, especially in December and January, can be chilly, and some river routes might even close if it gets too cold. But if you're up for crisp weather and fewer tourists, this could be the time for you. Just bundle up and enjoy the quiet beauty and clear views you'll get this time of year.

  • Experience the Flavors of China on a River Cruise

    China's food is as diverse as its landscapes, and a river cruise will introduce you to flavors that are as memorable as the sights. You're in for a treat with local dishes that often feature fresh, local ingredients and a balance of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter flavors.

    One dish you've got to try is Peking duck, known for its crispy skin and succulent meat, typically served with pancakes and hoisin sauce. Dim sum, a variety of small dishes like dumplings and steamed buns, makes for a perfect snack as you take in the riverside views. Don't miss out on local soups either – they're hearty, warming, and full of flavor.

    For something truly local, opt for a hotpot, especially if you're cruising through Chongqing or Sichuan. It's a social meal where you cook meats and veggies in a pot of simmering broth right at your table, and it's customizable to how spicy you like it.

    As for drinks, Chinese tea is an experience in itself, with different regions offering their own specialties. If you're feeling adventurous, give Baijiu a try – it's a strong Chinese spirit that's sure to warm you up.

    Most river cruises will offer onboard dining with a selection of these local delights, but if you have the chance to eat onshore, go for it. Look for busy spots filled with locals; they're usually the best indicator of delicious food.

  • Immerse Yourself in China Culture

    China's culture is rich and storied, stretching back thousands of years. On a river cruise, you'll get a front-row seat to this living history. The locals are proud of their heritage, and you'll see it in the traditional clothes some wear, the age-old folk music you'll hear, and the time-honored dance performances that might welcome you at the port.

    One of the biggest cultural experiences you can have is during a festival. The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is full of fireworks, dragon dances, and family feasts. If your trip lines up with the Mid-Autumn Festival, you'll see lanterns lighting up the night and get to try mooncakes.

    Everyday customs are important, too. Greetings are respectful, often with a slight nod or bow. And if you're lucky enough to be invited to a meal, remember that sharing dishes is the norm here—it's all about community and experience. So go ahead, dive in, and let the rich tapestry of China's culture envelop you.

  • Why Book a River Cruise to China?

    When you book a river cruise to China, you're signing up for an experience that gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Cruises offer you a comfortable and convenient way to see some of China's most incredible sights without the hassle of packing and unpacking at every stop. Imagine cruising down the Yangtze River, gazing out at landscapes that switch from high-rise cities to lush mountains and traditional pagodas. It's not just a boat ride; it's your floating hotel, restaurant, and tour guide all rolled into one.

    What's more, river cruises can get you into spots that are tough to reach by land. You'll be docking at ports that give you a straight path to hidden gems and can whisk you off on tours to secret spots. Plus, some activities are crafted just for cruise guests—like special onshore excursions that avoid the regular tourist trails or private shows that showcase traditional Chinese performances. After a day of adventure, you can kick back on the deck, enjoy a meal with new friends, and watch the world float by. It's a smooth, all-in-one trip that lets you focus on the fun and forget about the hassle of travel details.

  • Ready to Book Your China River Cruise?

    Ready to see the wonders of China from its ancient waterways? A river cruise in China isn't just a trip—it's a full-on adventure. Picture yourself gliding along the Yangtze, surrounded by misty mountains, with every turn bringing a new surprise, from towering pagodas to bustling cityscapes.

    Cruising gives you a unique vantage point that land travel just can't match. You'll unpack once and wake up to new sights every day. Plus, it's a great deal—you get travel, accommodation, and meals all in one. And don't forget the ease of it all. Tours and guides? They're often included, making sure you get the full story behind every incredible sight.

    So, why wait? Booking a river cruise in China means signing up for an unforgettable journey through the heart of this magnificent country. There's a whole new world waiting along its rivers, and it's calling your name.

China River Cruises Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Are China River Cruises?

    Typically, China river cruises are China tours scheduled along the Yangtze River. They normally begin and end in the major cities of Beijing and Shanghai. The river cruise tours include travel by train to destinations, such as Xian, and give tourists the ability to experience natural sights, such as the Three Gorges Dam, or visit river cities, such as Chongqing.

  • What’s Included on China River Cruises?

    When you take a China river cruise, you get to take off-shore excursions conducted by a professional, English-speaking guide. You can also customize your river cruise trip and take a group river cruise journey. Mini river cruise groups comprise one to 6 passengers, while larger groups may have up to 18 travelers. During your journey, you will receive all your meals free and have Wi-Fi and Internet access.

  • What’s the Best River Cruise of China River Cruises?

    You can choose from a variety of China river cruise offerings online. The best river cruise holiday is one that fits with your travel needs, personally and financially. To learn more about a tour's amenities, work with AffordableTours.com to get more information about pricing and the best times to go.

  • How Much Do China River Cruises Cost?

    A river cruise trip price depends on the length of the river cruise, the type of river cruise, the cabin you select, and the season in which you travel. During the spring or fall, expect to pay $350 per person per day for a more luxurious trip lasting about a week or a little longer.

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