Heading to China? We share this Yangtze River Cruise review, to share our experience cruising in China along the Three Gorges.
The Yangtze River is a popular route for cruise boats and ferries to travel along, serving tourists who wish to experience the Three Gorges. We took a cruise on the Victoria Yangtze Cruise ship, this is our review and experience of our trip.
DAY 1 – BOARDING
So, when we first arrived at the Chongqing dock, we did struggle to figure out which boat was ours. As worried travellers we wouldn’t allow the bag-carrying men to take our luggage and instead, heaved our own luggage up and down the many steps to 2 different boats that were the wrong boats; there are a few different types of Victoria Cruises; ours was the CH Victoria Cruise ship.
Once we did find the correct boat, however, we were warmly greeted with a welcome drink and a friendly staff member who sat us in the lounge reception area of the cruise ship and talked us through the itinerary. We were also told that the other people on the cruise were either part of a large Chinese tour group or part of a slightly smaller German tour group; meaning we would be the only two English-speaking guests onboard. This turned out to be ideal!
We sat with the tour guides during meal times so could ask lots of questions about China and the river and for every attraction, we had our own private English-speaking guide; meaning we could explore the attractions at our own pace.
We hadn’t yet had dinner and the cruise didn’t include dinner for the first night but the chef was incredibly accommodating and cooked us a sweet and sour pork dish with rice; very nice! We then spent some time exploring the cruise ship; which had a massive chandelier hanging from the first floor and hovering over the ground floor, with an impressive spiral wooden staircase leading you through the levels of the ship. The restaurant area is spacious with a golden and red colour theme and most meals were served buffet style.
Our room was simple but clean and comfy. We paid $349 per person so were happy with the value for money we got. The room had a private bathroom, a small wardrobe and a nice balcony with two chairs and a table; perfect for relaxing whilst cruising through the Gorges.
We headed to the rooftop terrace just before 9 pm, the time our ship was scheduled to depart Chongqing. We enjoyed seeing the city lit up and met some other guests; with the limited conversation but lots of smiles and nods!
The 4th floor had a sundeck at the back of the boat along with a bar and dance floor area. We enjoyed a few drinks here most evenings with a selection of beers, wines and fancy cocktails available.
The third floor had more guest rooms and a massage centre that I am not sure was ever used by any of the guests.
DAY 2 – FENGDU & ‘GHOST CITY’
We woke up bright and early for our 8 am breakfast which was made up of Western and Chinese food – the noodles and chicken sausages were an interesting mix. We headed out to explore the Fengdu Ghost City, the place where Chinese legend tells us is where the devil lives. It is known in China as purgatory where spirits go to heaven but evil goes to Fengdu.
This knowledge accompanied by the eerie, abandoned feel of the place, did give the visit an unusual atmosphere. For this trip we had a German and English-speaking tour guide but; because it was two English with 40 German-speaking tourists, we didn’t get much English explanation. Which, to be honest, was fine by us, as we were able to walk on ahead and explore the city ourselves without the crowd of our tour group.
At the ‘City’, you make your way up various steps and hills, moving through temples and among unusual (and slightly disturbing) statues. Although it was obvious that little restoration had been done to the city for many years, the faded colours still made interesting exploration and pictures.
We took our time wandering around the area, looking at the pagodas and temples along with the nature that was growing around the buildings and statues, following the pathway that leads to ‘hell’.
We crossed the Modoribashi; which translates to the Bridge to Hell and apparently connects the real world with the nether world. It was a foggy day during our visit but we managed to catch a glimpse and get a slightly murky picture of the Devil Hotel; a hotel that was being built in Fengdu to attract tourists but was only half completed due to several freak suicides during construction.
We then headed back to the boat for a Chinese lunch – buffet style in the dining room. The company did offer additional excursions but there were not enough people wanting to do the afternoon trip so it did not run. Instead, the ship played a film about the history of the Yichang River, which was interesting. We also learnt and had a go at Chinese glassware painting; where you dip an inked brush and paint a vase from the inside.
That evening we enjoyed a Welcome Reception from the captain and crew, including a Chinese fashion show; showcasing the fashions throughout the eras.
DAY 3 – BAIDICHENG – WHITE EMPEROR CITY
We were up again for an 8 am breakfast and then headed to the White Emperor City for an optional excursion. This time we had our own private tour guide who was a lovely lady with lots of knowledge of the local area and history.
The mini-city is well known to the Chinese people because of the famous poetry written about the area. The city is home to various pagodas, temples, gates, gardens and breathtaking views of the Gorges; the White Emperor City is placed just at the entrance of the Gorges.
Once we had returned to the ship, we freshened up, had lunch and headed to the observation sundeck on the fourth floor to experience the Gorges.
We were then transferred to a smaller boat to explore the ‘Lesser Gorges’, where we sat on a long tail boat that was rowed along by a delightful singing man.
Moving through the Lesser Gorges, we were told the history of the river and learnt that by building the Dam, river levels rose and flooded entire towns. In fact, our tour guide explained to us how we were currently cruising over the old town that he grew up in.
That evening, we enjoyed a Captain’s Buffet – a lovely traditional meal with champagne. We then headed to our balcony to enjoy the sunset whilst having a natter and enjoying some chocolate we managed to buy from a market stall in White Emperor City – I am slightly addicted to chocolate!
DAY 4 – THREE GORGES DAM
On our last day, we were taken to visit the Three Gorges Dam, with a Museum documenting the history using a miniature model of the dam. We learnt a lot about how and why the Dam was built and enjoyed the slightly random statues and sculptures surrounding the Museum.
Once we had finished our time at the Dam, a coach drove us into the centre of Yichang where our tour guide flagged us a 10 CNY (£1) taxi to take us to our hotel; the Ramada Yichang Hotel, where we were spending a night before our flight to Shanghai the next morning.
- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this microphone for all our Youtube voiceovers.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favorite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.
COST OF TRAVEL IN CHINA – Prices from one month travelling in China – Creative Travel Guide
Friday 9th of September 2022
[…] Accommodation: Victoria Cruise boat $359pp for the whole trip, food included.Brunch: Snacks from convenience store $4Metro from Hostel to Chengdu train station: $1Chengdu to Chongqing speed train: $13 pp.Cream for a swollen arm thanks to a bite: $4.50Dinner: Food included on the boat. […]
ROMANTIC GETAWAYS IN ASIA • Creative Travel Guide
Tuesday 1st of January 2019
[…] travel experience so far. Spend time with the adorable pandas in Chengdu, take a cruise along the Yangzte River together, visit the Great Wall and even head to the seaside in Qingdao; home to China’s most […]
TRAVELLERS FAVOURITE DESTINATIONS • Creative Travel Guide
Sunday 8th of April 2018
[…] Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an or get up close and personal to the Pandas of Chengdu. Jump of a Yangtze River Cruise to relax or catch the sights and wanders of […]
BACKPACKING ASIA - 40 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELING ASIA - Creative Travel Guide
Monday 27th of March 2017
[…] Embassy in your home country so prepare and plan your trip in advance. Also, don’t miss out the Yangtze river – simply […]
Cost of Travel: One month in China - Creative Travel Guide
Saturday 4th of March 2017
[…] Victoria Cruise boat $359pp for whole trip, food included. Brunch: Snacks from convenience store: $4 Metro from Hostel […]