Wu Gorge (image courtesy of Anne Roberts)

The Yangzi (or Yangtze) River is the world’s third longest river – with its humble origins in the Tibetan plateau, the river then grows in width and volume, flowing 6,400km (or almost 4,000 miles) to its mouth in Shanghai, where it empties into the East China Sea. The Yangzi River has historically acted as a divide between China’s north and south. Based in the heartland of China, home to 500 million people, it’s not surprising the impact the river has had on Chinese culture – the Chinese people have long viewed the river as integral to their culture. Its great power has been recognised and celebrated throughout Chinese history in poetry, painting and prose.

View of the Yangtze River from Fengdu

Undoubtedly the best way to experience this world-famous landmark is first hand on a luxury cruise. This is the only way to be fully immersed in the tranquility of the Yangzi river basin. China cruises are perfect for those looking for a cultural experience in a serene manner, and, of course, in luxury. Relax onboard and enjoy the majestic scenery or hop onto a boat excursion. Here are three sights you shouldn’t miss:

1. Wanzou

Yangtze excursion boat

As you drift along the water, you will take in the landscape and traditional Chinese culture. Spanning both sides of the river, the mountain city of Wanzou is known as the gateway to the East Sichuan Basin. Here you will gain a snapshot of rural China where you will see countless farmers and fishermen.

2. The Three Gorges

The most celebrated area of the Yangzi is undeniably the Three Gorges region, with its towering mountains that seemingly plunge into the river basin. Enriched with over 3000 years of history, the gorges have played an important role as far back as the ancient Three Kingdoms Period (260-280 AD) to modern history of World War II, when they acted as a barrier against the Japanese invasion. These days, the Three Gorges is a popular cruise destination; tourists come here to gape at the awe-inspiring gorges and the huge, albeit controversial, Three Gorges dam.

3. Shennong Stream

Take a trip on a local longboat (‘sampan’) along the Shennong stream, poled by Tujia boatmen where you will discover inland creeks. With the clear waters and luscious forestry surroundings this really is a must-do whilst on China cruises.

On board a Yangzi River luxury cruise

The serenity doesn’t end outside. On board luxury China cruises you can unwind with a series of authentic Chinese activities. Those looking for indulgence can enjoy the Spa, fitted with oriental themed treatment rooms where the only goal is relax with rejuvenating treatments to revive the body. Afterwards sip on traditional Chinese tea on the deck as you watch the Yangzi scenery pass by.

The cruises also provide the opportunity to whet your cultural appetite with Chinese cookery lessons where you can learn to create your own traditional Chinese masterpieces. For those looking to expand their cultural knowledge, classes in ancient civilisation, calligraphy and silk embroidery are also available.

If you are looking for a relaxing and authentic cultural experience then book a luxury Yangzi River cruise today and let the Three Gorges act as a scenic backdrop for your voyage.

Read about my Danube River cruise with Avalon Waterways.

Note: This post is brought to you in partnership with Sanctuary Retreats who operate a number of luxury cruise experiences.

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