APT River Cruising Offers The Best View Of China

12 Aug 2016

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There is an old saying in China: "If you haven't travelled up the 'Chang Jiang', you haven't been anywhere". A journey along the Yangtze River, Asia’s longest, and the third-longest in the world, is unquestionably a highlight of any visit to China.

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Cruising the Yangtze River with APT
Cruising the Yangtze River. Photo: APT

The best view of China

The world’s oldest continuous civilisation is like several different countries rolled into one. Cruising along this scenic waterway, China’s vast differences are apparent at every bend: giant cities sprouting skyscrapers contrast with stunning natural landscapes and ancient towns packed with temple-topped mountains and palaces.

While the total length of the Yangtze is around 6300 kilometres, most cruises concentrate on the most picturesque 660-kilometre stretch of the river between Yichang and Chongqing, celebrated for its dramatic beauty, cultural treasures, religious and historical sites, and the jaw-dropping Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest engineering project.

Enhance your experience with APT

APT offers a range of itineraries in China which include four nights cruising on the Yangtze River aboard the 62-suite boutique river ship Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer. Not only is the ship the smallest, most exclusive and has the largest cabins and suites cruising the Yangtze River, it’s also one of the most luxurious river ships in China, offering a high level of intimacy, comfort and service for which APT is renowned.

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Dumpling making class with APT River Cruising
Learn Chinese arts such as dumpling making onboard. Photo: APT

More than a cruise

While it is hard to imagine you will ever tire of watching the unfolding panorama along the riverbanks from the balcony of your suite; Mandarin lessons, tai chi classes, calligraphy and silk embroidery demonstrations, dumpling making sessions and live cultural performances on board provide an added dimension to your understanding of Chinese culture. Other facilities include a stylish main lounge and bar, an observation deck, a two-floor theatre, library, hair and beauty salon, gym and indulgent spa treatments.

Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer’s team of professional and internationally trained chefs whip up the finest Western-style and Chinese cuisine, and as an added bonus, free-flowing house wines, local beers and spirits, and soft drinks are also included with lunch and dinner.

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Cruising through the spectacular scenery of the Three Gorges
Cruising through the spectacular scenery of the Three Gorges. Photo: Kris Madden

Local insights

Throughout the journey, shore excursions with English-speaking local guides provide a passionate insight into life along the river, providing a unique perspective on this intriguing region through the eyes of the local people.

Sailing along, you’ll take in the majesty of the Three Gorges, twisting between the spectacular peaks of Xiling Gorge, Yellow Ox Gorge and beneath the centuries-old Huangling Temple.


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At Badong, a traditional Chinese longboat, poled by a local Tujia boatman, gets you up close and personal with the towering rock formations. Climb through the clouds to the surreal atmosphere of Fengdu Ghost City, noted for its many temples atop Ming Mountain.

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The Li River in Guilin
The Li River in Guilin offers an equally spectacular but different cruise. Photo: Kris Madden

The Jade Ribbon

APT's 15-day ‘Treasures of China’ itinerary also includes a day cruise on the Li River in Guilin, a completely different, but equally spectacular Chinese river cruise. Together, they allow you to experience the heart and soul of China through its magnificent waterways.

The river curls like a silk jade ribbon through the dramatic limestone karsts that tower alongside it. The most scenic part is the stretch between Guilin and Yangshuo - an 80-kilometre-long natural art gallery which is famously featured on the Chinese 20 yuan note.

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Terracotta Warrior statues in Xi’an
Explore the wonders of China, such as the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an. Photo: APT

Entice your imagination

Mystical fairy tales and love stories are associated with almost every natural feature along the river. Names such as ‘Forest of Odd Shaped Peaks’ and ‘Yearning-for-Husband's-Return Rock’, stir the imagination. Fishermen on bamboo rafts float past against a backdrop of steep gorges and misty mountains that have inspired artists for centuries.

Before and after APT’s China cruises, there is time to explore the wonders of Beijing and the Great Wall of China; Shanghai; the adorable Giant Pandas, and the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an.

Kris Madden

Kris Madden is an award-winning travel writer whose articles have appeared in many Australian and international print and online publications and guidebooks. Her travels have taken her to more than 60 countries combining her love of writing with her passion for adventure.