Yangtze River Transport

Yangtze River Transport

By Kelly PangUpdated Oct. 1, 2021

As the longest river in China, there are many hub cities and ports along the Yangtze River. Chongqing, Yichang, and Shanghai are the three major port cites for Yangtze River cruises in 2021.

Here we will help you to find out how to get to these three cities from popular destinations in China as well as how to get to the right ports in each city for embarkation.

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Embarkation from Chongqing

Sunset in ChongqingSunset in Chongqing

Chongqing is located near the end of the navigable part of the Yangtze River for large ships. It is located in the transition area between East China where the economy is developing quickly, and West China where there are abundant resources. So, Chongqing is the hinge of transportation in Central China with a highly developed transport infrastructure.

Chongqing is a city with a long history, so it is worth taking time to experience its culture. Besides, around the Chongqing urban area, there are some scenic and historical highlights such as Dazu County’s ancient rock art carvings and the rocky national park scenery at Wulong. If you’re interested, you could easily combine a Chongqing tour with a Yangtze River cruise if you embark at Chongqing.

Recommended Chongqing tours:

Contact us updated travel information

Getting to Chongqing by Air

Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport ranks among the top 10 airports in China. Vying for the title No. 1 hub city in central west China with Chengdu, it connects many China cities with frequent daily flights: Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming, Guangzhou, Harbin, Guilin, etc. It has also served 80 international routes: New York, Amsterdam, Paris, Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo, etc.

Chongqing’s 144-hour visa-free transit policy, when pandemic restrictions are relaxed, will again allow access to the whole of Chongqing (but not as far as Yichang in Hubei, so it’s no use for cruise takers) for those going to a third country via Jiangbei International Airport. It’s valid for 53 countries, including the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, but not South Africa.  

Getting to Chongqing by Train

The High-speed train The High-speed train

To get to Chongqing city, it is suggested to take the high-speed train for a good travelling experience.

Currently, Chongqing West Train Station and Chongqing North Train Station are the two major stations for high-speed trains to major cities in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai (10 hours), Xi’an (5 hours), Wuhan (7 hours), and Guangzhou. However, a flight would probably be more convenient for cities further than Wuhan.

Moreover, the daily bullet trains take only 1½–2 hours from Chengdu to Chongqing. It is convenient to enrich your Chongqing tour with a trip to Chengdu by train.

Check out more about Chongqing Railway Station

Getting to Chongqing’s Cruise Port

The night view of Chongqing Chaotianmen PortThe night view of Chongqing Chaotianmen Port

Address of Chaotianmen Port (朝天门码头): 17 Changbin Road, Yuzhong District (渝中区长滨路17号) — There is little English in Chongqing, so you may need to use the Chinese.

From the airport to Chaotianmen Port

  • Taxi: 50 minutes’ drive.
  • Public transport: Take the airport shuttle bus to its terminal (Shangqingsi District), and then take bus 401, 215, or 862 to Chaotianmen Port. It takes around 1½ hours in total.

From Chongqing West Railway Station to Chaotianmen Port

  • Taxi: around 1 hour’s drive.
  • Public transport: Take Metro Line 3 to Shiqiaopu then Line 1 to Chaotianmmen Station. It also takes about 1 hour.

From Chongqing North Railway Station to Chaotianmen Port

  • Taxi: around 50 minutes’ drive.
  • Public transport: Taking bus 141 to Chaotianmen Station takes 70 minutes.

Especially if you are unfamiliar with China/Chinese, getting to Chaotianmen Port by our private English-speaking driver service is the most stress-free way. Contact us for a private transfer from the airport / railway station to Chaotianmen Port.

Chongqing Embarkation Tips

Chongqing Chaotianmen port is the usual starting point for a Yangtze River cruise from Chongqing. This port is very large with 18 piers, usually piers 7, 8, and 9 are used by Yangtze cruise ships, but there is no assigned pier for any cruise company except Victoria Cruises. A ship’s pier number is only announced 1 to 2 days prior to departure in Chongqing. If you book a trip with us, we will inform you as soon as we can.

There are many steep stairs from the car park to the dock. We can arrange porters to transfer your luggage to the ship at US$2–3 per piece. Please feel free to contact us if you need this service.

Embarkation from Yichang

The Three Gorges Dam in YichangThe Three Gorges Dam in Yichang

Yichang is one of the major port cities along the Yangtze River. It’s known as “Gateway to the Three Gorges”.  It is also the start point of the 5-day upstream Yangtze River cruises to Chongqing. Thanks to China’s increasingly advanced transportation network, it is convenient to get to Yichang by air, train, and coach from many other popular destinations in China.

Getting to Yichang by Air

Yichang Sanxia Airport is 26 km (16 miles) from the city center. Though it is only a medium-sized domestic airport, it serves regular flights to/from some major cities of China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Chengdu.

Getting to Yichang by Train

The High-speed trainThe High-speed train

Yichang East Train Station is Yichang’s main station for high-speed trains. It provides rail services to most large cities in China including Beijing (7 hours), Xi’an (ordinary 12 hours), Shanghai (7 hours), Guangzhou (7 hours), Chongqing (4 hours), and Chengdu (6 hours), offering you some good alternatives to flying to get to Yichang.

Yichang Train Station serves ordinary trains.

Also see How to Travel from Wuhan/Yichang to Zhangjiajie.

Getting to Yichang’s Port

Yichang Maoping portYichang Maoping port

In 2021, Yangtze 1 using Yichang Sandouping Port for embarkation, while all other cruises will use Yichang Maoping Port for embarkation. Travelers are required to assemble in Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal or Yichang East Railway Station at 17:30–20:30 for cruise-company-arranged tourist buses to Maoping Port.

  • Address of Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal (宜昌三峡游客中心): 142 Yanjiang Avenue, Wujiagang District (伍家岗区沿江大道142号)
  • Address of Yichang Maoping port (茅坪码头): 150 meters east from Binhu Avenue, Zigui County (秭归县距滨湖大道以东150米)

From the Airport to Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal

  • Taxi: around 1 hour’s drive
  • Public transportation: Take a shuttle bus from the airport to Wanda Plaza, and then walk around 500 meters to the cruise terminal.

From Yichang East Train Station to Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal

  • Taxi: around 40 minutes’ drive.
  • Public transportation: Take bus B1 to Shengli First Road (胜利一路) and walk south 200 meters.

Yichang’s public transportation system is not as convenient as Chongqing’s. To save your time and energy, it is suggested to book China Highlights private car service in Yichang.

Embarkation from Shanghai

The Bund in ShanghaiThe Bund in Shanghai

Shanghai is in East China and covers the south of the Yangtze River Delta. As China's biggest and most prosperous city, Shanghai has a world class transportation network of flight routes, roads, railways, a metro, and international cruises. Every day, there are hundreds of domestic and international flights between Shanghai and many cities in China as well as many major cities abroad (now limited by COVID restrictions).

Shanghai is a splendid metropolis blending West and East, modern and medieval. No matter which aspect of Shanghai you are interested in, it will not disappoint you.

Stroll down the Bund promenade. Enjoy a panoramic view of the city from one of the world’s tallest buildings or immerse yourself in classical Yu Garden. There are so many ways to discovery this city. See our Shanghai tours. We will show you the real Shanghai and guide you to experience the lives of local people.

Recommended Shanghai tours:

Getting to Shanghai by Air

Shanghai Hongqiao International AirportShanghai Hongqiao International Airport

Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA) are the two huge airports in Shanghai.

Shanghai Pudong International Airport is the largest airport in Shanghai, which serves over 80 domestic and foreign airlines, and connects with over 100 international and regional destinations as well as over 90 domestic destinations.

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport is mainly a domestic airport, with limited international flights to Japan and South Korea.

Passengers from 53 countries or regions can enjoy a 144-hour visa-free stay in Shanghai and its nearby areas. See more on How to Transit in China for 144 Hours without a Visa.

Getting to Shanghai by Train

Shanghai Hongqiao Railway StationShanghai Hongqiao Railway Station

There are four main railway stations in Shanghai: Shanghai Railway Station, Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, Shanghai South Railway Station, and Shanghai west Railway Station.

Shanghai Railway Station and Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station operate most of the bullet trains to/from Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Kunming, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Suzhou, etc. These two stations are the most used by travelers.

Check out more on Shanghai Transportation.

Getting to Shanghai’s Yangtze Cruise Port

Shanghai Port International Cruise TerminalShanghai Port International Cruise Terminal

In 2021, the cruise ship Century legend and Victoria Sabrina will run cruise trips between Shanghai and Chongqing (and vice versa) on certain dates. Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal is the port for embarkation and disembarkation. It is the largest cruise port terminal in Shanghai, with a water front of 880m, covering 41 hectares. 

Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal (上海港国际客运中心) Address:  538 Dongdaming Road, Hongkou District, 1 km north of the Bund (虹口区东大名路538号,距外滩以北1公里)

From Pudong Airport to the Cruise Terminal

  • Taxi: around 1 hour
  • Public transportation: Take shuttle bus 5 from the airport to Zhongshandong Second Road (中山东二路), and then transfer to bus 868, getting off at the Dongdaming Road Lushun Road Intersection.

From Hongqiao Airport / Railway Station to the Cruise Terminal

  • Taxi: around 1 hour’s driving.
  • Public transportation: Take subway line 10 to Tiantong Road, then line 12 to International Cruise Terminal. From exit 3 walk 660 m.

From Shanghai Railway Station to Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal

  • Taxi: around 30 minutes
  • Public transportation: Walk 370 m to Shanghai Station metro station, take line 1 to Hankou Road, then (walking 220 m in the same station) line 12 to International Cruise Terminal. From exit 3 walk 660 m. 30+ minutes.

In Shanghai, for your convenience, it is highly suggested to book a private car with English-speaking driver for transfers between your airport / train station and cruise port. Check out more about our Shanghai Pickups and Transfer Service.

Contact us updated travel information

Travel with China Highlights

We highly recommend you to book a Yangtze River cruise with us which includes transfer services in the port cities. Our professional travel advisor will offer you free consultancy about your cruise plan and detailed transportation guidance in the port cities for your Yangtze cruise. Contact us for a perfectly organized trip.

See our schedule of all the cruise ships in 2021.

Explore More of China with your Yangtze River Cruise:

Majestic China: The essence of China (8 days of ancient culture and modern miracles in Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai) is there to be discovered alongside a majestic 4-day Yangtze River cruise. Discover more of the "New China" with your expert guide and driver.

Land of Pandas: With comfortable accommodation and transportation, this 13-day tour features a close experience with giant pandas in Chengdu as well as the famous Golden Triangle and a Yangtze River cruise per Majestic China.

Nature of China: This 15-day tour brings the natural wonders of the Yangtze River and Zhangjiajie closer to you and shows you the essence of China in Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai. Enjoy the beauty of China with stunning natural views.

Our tours can be tailor-made according to your group size, travel time, interests, budget, and other requirements.

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