China Waterways

China now has over 140,000 kilometers (86,992 miles) of navigable inland waterway. Major navigable rivers include the Heilongjiang River, the Yangtze River, the Pearl River, the Huangpu River, as well as the Beijing – Hangzhou Grand Canal, which is the longest artificial canal in the world.

With the development of railways, highways and air transportation, the utility of China’s waterway for passenger transportation has diminished. They are now mostly used for freightage or sightseeing purposes.

There are the following cruises sailing along the famous waterways, offering the beautiful sights and leisurely pastime that you wouldn’t want to miss while traveling in China.

Yangtze River cruise

Yangtze River cruiseCruise of Yangtze River, the longest river in China.

The mighty Yangtze River is the longest river in China, and the third longest in the world, after the Nile in Africa and the Amazon in South America. For the Chinese people, its most common name is simply Chang Jiang (Long River). It is China’s major commercial waterway.

The most famous section stretches 193 kilometers (120 miles), beginning from Baidi (White Emperor Town) in Sichuan Province, and ending in Nanjinguan Pass in Yichang City, Hubei Province. It is composed of Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge, and you will pass through the Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydro-electric power station in the world.

Sailing along the river, you will relish the breathtaking sceneries as well as the historical and cultural sights along the way. Come, join us and witness the charm of the Yangtze River.

Li River cruise, Guilin

Li RiverCruise of Li River, a river with picturesque scenery

The 83-kilometer-long (52 miles) waterway from Guilin to Yangshuo, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is like an artist's masterpiece. The landscape features crystal water, steep cliffs, startling hills, fantastic caves and farming villages, with bamboo groves lining along the riverbank. In a Chinese poem it is written: "The river is a green silk ribbon, and the hills are jade hairpins".

Cruising on the Li River is an enjoyable experience under any weather. During sunny days, tourists can see the inverted reflection of the hills on both sides clearly in the water. During cloudy days, the hills are wreathed by mist and tourists may feel they are cruising in a mystical paradise. And when the rain comes, drizzle is like a veil covering over hills and rivers. You will also pass a sight where its scenery has been printed on the back of 20-Yuan Chinese banknotes. Isn’t it exciting to make this discovery on your own as you sail along?

Huangpu River Night Cruise, Shanghai

Huangpu River Night cruise of Huangpu River, a symbol of Shanghai

Huangpu River is a symbol of Shanghai, and a witness to the history and development of the city. With a total length of 114 kilometers (71 miles), it flows through Shanghai and divides the city into two regions, Puxi (the west part) and Pudong (the east part), with the Bund lying along the west bank of the river.

Taking a short cruise along the Huangpu River is a traditional tourist program in Shanghai. You will sail through the Yangpu Bridge and Nanpu Bridge which stretch over the river, and pass the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, the third tallest tower in the world with a height of 468 meters (1,535 feet). The cruise also offers excellent view of the buildings alongside the banks, the colonial-era buildings that make up the bund, and the modern skyscrapers that shoot up along the east bank. The view is especially spectacular at night when the lighting is on.

West Lake, Hangzhou

West LakeCruise of West Lake in summer with beautiful lotus

The West Lake is located in the western area, the historic center of Hangzhou City. It is surrounded by hills on three sides, and covers an area of 6.5 square kilometers (1,626 acres). The West Lake is the symbol of Hangzhou, and is considered one of the most beautiful sights in China. The picture of Santangyingyue (Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon), one of the classic views of the West Lake has been printed on the back of 1-Yuan Chinese banknotes.

The West Lake is not only famous for its beauty, but also its association with many aspects of Chinese culture. Numerous verses, poems, paintings, and other works of art were made about the West Lake. Many ancient buildings surrounding the Lake are of significant artistic value, and are listed among the most treasured assets of the nation.

More China Cruises

Hi, I'm Gavin Van Hinsbergh
I updated this article on February 26, 2014
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Questions and Answers About China Waterways

bon qui qui 2011-12-06
Show Answer
What are the major waterways of china ?
Dear bon qui qui, The major waterways of China are the Yellow River, Yangtze River, Pearl River, the Beijing-Hangzhou Canal and the Songhua River. Besides, there are many branches of these main waterways. Hope it helps. Candice Song replied on 2011-12-07
Todd 2010-11-11
Show Answer
How much does it cost to take a ferry from Hongkong to Zuhai in US moneys Thank you
Hello Todd, as for the ferry from Hong Kong to Zhuhai, the common class is US$25 per person, the first class is US$29 and US$35 for VIP Class. Michael Hu replied on 2010-11-12
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