Home to nearly 20% of the world’s entire population, and speaking over 150 dialects of language, the mystery and culture of China is as intriguing as it is intimidating. It is for this reason that guided explorations along the Yangtze river have grown in popularity among North Americans seeking to experience the authenticity and richness of China without feeling overwhelmed by the drastic changes in culture. For the adventurous traveler wishing to experience the depth, history, and natural beauty of China, we give you 5 reasons why river cruising is a perfect way to explore China.
- You travel through the heart of China. As the third-longest river in the world, the Yangtze river weaves its way from the glaciers of Qinghai-Tibet plateau to the East China Sea, covering approximately 3,915 miles (6,300 km) from peak to ocean, inland to coast, and cruising along the Yangtze river exposes travelers to the spectral opposites of China, from the quiet and misty Tanggula mountains, to the chaotic hustle of the world’s most populous city.
- You experience the largest city in the world. With approximately 23.9 million residents, Shanghai has nearly twice the population of New York City. While navigating a foreign city of this density and energy may seem daunting to North American’s, the beauty of river cruising to Shanghai is that you can experience the city on your own terms – with a tour group, with a private guide, by horse and cart, or even completely solo, to ensure you have the exact experience you desire.
- You experience China’s capital city. Clocking in at approximately 20 million residents and China’s second-largest city, Beijing has a very different feel than modern Shanghai. As the capital city of China for the last seven centuries, the history of Beijing dates back three millennia and is home to some of the world’s oldest and most mysterious destinations including two UNESCO World Heritage sites – the famous Great Wall of China, and the 101 hectare Forbidden City.
- You experience the capital of ancient dynasties. Dating back 3,100 years, Xi’an is known for the abundance of historical ruins, museums, and cultural relics, the most famous of which is the army of 8,000 Terracotta Warriors, each constructed with distinct features, for burial of Emperor Qin Shi Huang over 2,000 years ago. Xi’an is also the starting point of The Silk Road, a trade and cultural transmission route which began initial construction in 206 BC, and used at various points in history by the Chinese, Persians, Romans, Armenians, Indians, and Arabs to trade and sell goods such as incense, tea, spices, salt, and, of course, silk.
- You experience the region of China with the highest achievable award for beautiful natural scenery. Classified by the Chinese National Tourism Administration, the Yangtze Gorges region is considered one of the most naturally beautiful regions of China, famous for its virgin mountains that tower along both sides of the Yangtze river, disappearing skywards into a milky cloak of mist. The region has been under controversy since the Three Gorges Dam was installed to manage water levels and protect river-dependent cities from flooding, however the regions visited while river cruising remain natural and untouched.
Yangtze river cruises vary in duration, the most popular being 10-15 days in length, and land tours are common additions to Yangtze river cruises to explore regions of China that are further inland. For more information on river cruises along the Yangtze, or other river cruises around the world, contact the River Cruise Experts team at Cruise Experts Travel at 1-800-737-8100, or get in touch with us on Facebook.