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Yangtze Transport

Getting to Yangtze
The Three Gorges, which lie between Chongqing and Yichang, are the most popular destination for tourists.

Chongqing is the normal starting point for the downriver Yangtze. Boat departures are normally early in the morning so it is usually necessary to spend the night in Chongqing. The journey through the Three Gorges to Yichang and on downstream to Wuhan takes three-and-a-half days, while the upriver journey, form Wuhan to Chongqing, takes four-and-a-half days. Following the completion of the Three Gorges Dam, and as a portion of the river becomes more lake-like up to 2009, upstream speeds are likely to increase, and downstream ones to show slightly. Night navigation will become possible in formerly dangerous reaches, and may lead to the re-scheduling of boats other than those specifically for tourists. Check timings carefully to make sure you pass through the Three Gorges in daylight hours.

Schedule Passenger Boats
Regular passenger boats travel all the way to Shanghai. However, it should be noted that most of these boats terminate at either Yichang or Wuhan, and it is therefore necessary to book onward passages at these stops. There are ticket offices at the piers. Depending on the type of boat and its schedule, the 1,125 km journey between Wuhan and Shanghai may take up to four days upstream and tree days downstream.

There are daily sailing of these scheduled passenger boats in both directions from Wuhan, Nanjing and Shanghai. And they serve all the Yangtze towns.

Scheduled Services, Wuhan – Chongqing - Wuhan
Gonging upstream form Wuhan, not only are there more ports of call, but the journey takes about 100 hours (4 nights on board) compared with 57 hours (2 nights on board) going downstream. Not every sailing makes the same stops, but the timetable includes a regular daily service on this run. Additional daily sailings make scheduled stops at towns not included in the regular downstream schedule.

Cruise Boats
A more luxurious way of seeing the Three Gorges is to book on one of the many cruise ships catering mainly to foreign tour groups. Most sail the stretch to and from Chongqing – Yichang, or as far as Wuhan. Some cruise lines, such as Regal China Cruises, President Cruises and Victoria Cruises, also offer longer trips, some as long as 9 nights, sailing form Shanghai to Chongqing, for instance. The boats operate from the end of March or the beginning of April to October or November. Fitted out with private bathrooms for each cabin, air-conditioning, observation decks, gift shops and bars, these ships offer arranged excursions on shore and other entertainments during the three – to four-day cruise.

Bookings for all Yangtze cruises should be made well in advance, particularly for September and October, which is the peak tourist season. Although most people take these cruises as part of a group tour, it is also possible to buy individual tickets for the cruise only.

Getting to Chongqing
By air
Chongqing has many international services from Los Angeles, Melbourne, Sydney, Paris, Nagoya, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Vancouver and New Delhi etc, and there are services daily from Hong Kong and Macau. There may also be charter services run by China Travel Air Service Hong Kong. It is usually cheaper to cross the borders by rail or bus and fly from Shenzhen, Guangzhou or Zhuhai than to fly from Hong Kong directly. There are domestic flights from Beijing (up to 10 daily), Shanghai (up to 47 daily), Xian (up to 9 daily), Guilin (up to 10 daily), Kunming (up to 20 daily), Guangzhou (up to 31 daily), Chengdu, Changchun, Changsha, Changzhou, Dalian, Fuzhou (up to 8 daily), Xiamen(up to 12 daily), Guiyang, Haikou, Hangzhou (up to 17 daily), Harbin, Hefei, Jinan, Jinjiang, Kunming, Lanzhou, Lhasa, Nanchang, Nanjing, Nanning, Nigbo, Qingdao, Shantou, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, Tianjin, Urumqi, Wenzhou, Wuhan, Xiamen, Xi’an, Xining, Xishuangbanna, Yichang, Yinchuan, Zhagnjiajie, Zhangjiang, Zhengzhou, Beihai, and Zhuhai.  

By rail
The rapid expansion and modernization of the Chinese railway network has yet to make much difference to services to Chongqing. Trains south and west to Kunming, or south and east to Guangzhou pass on a single track line which is a miracle of engineering through spectacular mountain scenery and remote and impoverished areas. From Beijing’s West Station it’s a double overnight journey, and from Guangzhou about 36 hours.

Getting to Yichang
By air
Yichang has air services an average of three times a week from Beijing, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Enshi, Guangzhou, Huangshan (daily), Kunming, Nanjing, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Xi’an Zhangjiajie, and Zhengzhou.

By rail
There are direct trans from various cities, including Wuhan, Xi’an, and Beijing, but many services require a change at the nearby junction of Yaqueling. From Wuhan long distance buses and overnight sleeper buses may be more convenient.

Getting to Wuhan
By air
There are domestic flights from Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Guilin, Hangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu, Chongqing, Zhangjiajie, Xiamen, Dalian, Saxian, Enshi, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Sanya, Guiyang, Haikou, Harbin, Hefei, Hohhot, Huangshan, Huangyan, Ji’an, Lanzhou, Nanchang, Nanjing, Nanning, Ninbo, Qingdao, Shantou, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Urumqi, Wenzhou, Wuyishan, Xining, Tantai, Changchun, Changsha, Changzhou, Baotou, Yinchuan, Zhengzhou, and Zhuhai.  

By rail
Wuhan is on a fast north-south route between Kowloon and Beijing West Railway Station, with comfortable expresses leaving Hong Kong at 3pm each afternoon and arriving at Wuhan at 7.2 am the next day. You may not use the Kowloon service when coming south from Beijing, but there are several services each day, and there are direct trains to Wuhan from other major Chinese cities such as Chengdu, Xi’an, Tianjin, and Guilin. What is worth mentioning, you can experience the world fastest high–speed train from Guangzhou to Wuhan. The high-speed rail (968 km) was first operated by China Railway High-speed on Oct.1, 2009. All the trains’ speed can up to 350 km/h. It takes about 3 hours from Guangzhou to Wuhan.

Getting to Shanghai
Getting to Shanghai is very convenient because this cosmopolis has many international flights from all the world major cities, such as London, Berlin, New York, Paris, Toyo, Singapore, Sydney, Los Angeles, Cairo, Osaka, Manila, Bangkok, New Delhi, Islamabad, Oman, Moscow, Lisbon, Jakarta, Wellington, Rome, San Francisco…Click to see more facts about the Shanghai transportation.

Questions & Comments

  • Ripple Sage on April 7, 2011, 10:55 am

    Dear Catherine, sorry for not reply you promtly for the Chinese Tomb Sweeping Day (Qing Ming Festival). In Yichang, there are no flights conneting to Guilin at present. You can first fly to Wuhan or Chongqing, and then transfer to Guilin. This is the best way to save money and time. Kunming is very beautiful, but make 1 or 2 days stop-over just ok. By the way, one of our travel consultants may have replied you via email in several days ago.

  • catherine on April 2, 2011, 6:36 pm

    My yangtze river cruise finishes in Yichang and then we want to travel to gulin area -is it possible to fly from Yichang to Guilin or do we need to go to Kunming

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