China River cruises are often confined to the two main
rivers in the country: the Yangtze and the Li. Since the majority
of China's waterways and former trade routes are offshoots
of these main rivers, the tourist draw to these river
cruises in China cannot be overstated.
The Yangtze is the country's longest and most celebrated
river, and naturally the bulk of China cruises float
down the rushing current that dissect the scenic Chinese
countryside. Cutting across many of the major regions
of China, from Tibet all the way
to the where it unloads into the East China Sea (a few
miles north of Shanghai), there are plenty of smaller,
more manageable river cruises throughout China. Though
some prefer to ride the length of the Yangtze, those intrepid
travelers are few and far between, not to mention that
there are no major cruise lines that travel the extent
of the river.
But there are still many different cruise lines. From the large corporate affairs to small fishing boats with extra space, China cruises are one of the most malleable travel options you can find. The larger cruise lines are, of course, the more popular way to go, but many shun the idea of being herded around with other foreigners, getting the equivalent of generic tours at all the major cities and sights located upon the river banks. Since most boats stop frequently, taking a series of smaller China river cruises can be the most effective way to see what the banks of the Yangtze has to offer.
The eastern half of the Yangtze is where the majority of China cruises originate and end. North of Shanghai, in the cities of Jiangyin and Nanjing, you'll find the lion's share of boats waiting to take you west, towards Wuhan. Unfortunately, this section of the Yangtze is less scenic than the less-traveled western half, with many of the outlying areas being industrial complexes and urban overdeveloped tourist stops. Those with good information prefer the trip from Wanzhou to Yichang, which stops at the overwhelming Three Gorges, a sight only slightly spoiled by the recently constructed dam you'll find here. This region also lists White King Town, the city of Fengjie and the nearly-as-scenic Little Three Gorges as major stops before heading into the cement jungle of Yichang, though the nearby Three Visitors Cave is immensely underrated and the adjoining cliff trails are some of the best hikes in all of China.
River cruises in China are not only on the Yangtze and
its tributaries, however; the Li River offers plenty
of its own scenic riverbanks. Located in the popular southern
area of China, most every cruise along the Li stops in
Yangshuo, a backpacker's paradise that remains largely
undiscovered by the average tourist. As of now, anyway, the river cruises that begin and end here (often
moving to and from the city of Guilin, a day's journey
away) are ever growing in popularity, much like the region's
surrounding areas. Limestone cliffs, calm waters and the
laid-back atmosphere of tiny fishing villages greet whoever
deems it worthy to sail the Li River.