The Chinese never refer to the river as the Yangtze; they call the river by its full name, “Chang Jiang,” or “Long River.”
It is the longest river in Asia and the third-longest in the world, its source shrouded in mystery until modern times, mistakenly named the “Yangtze” by Christian missionaries who were unaware that for the Chinese the name only refers to the lower part of the river, from Nanjing to the river mouth at Shanghai. 3,964 miles long, the river also has many local names as it makes its way eastward across the entire width of China, historically dividing north and south.
A cruise along this ancient water, closed to the outside world for centuries, is a once-in-a-lifetime journey. On the water, you’ll slip into the slower pace of life that has been lived here for centuries, passing towns and villages dotted with temples and pagodas, stopping to browse the local markets for silks and carvings. A highlight of every cruise features the most dramatic part of the river, the Three Gorges region, a stretch of approximately 120 miles boasting stunning vistas of misty mountains, sheer gorges, and verdant bamboo groves.
The sheer size of the Yangtze means there are plenty of options for cruise enthusiasts, with all the major river cruise lines including the Yangtze on their China tours. The main cruise season runs April through October, with the weather being optimal in the spring and fall.