Chongqing is the departure point for the two-day cruise downriver through the Three Gorges to Yichang. There are two main cruise options, both of which run year-round: relatively inexpensive public ferries, which stop along the way to pick up passengers; and upmarket cruise ships, which only stop at tour sites. For prices from Chongqing to Yichang, along with practical information on buying both ferry and cruise-ship tickets.

Public ferries are crowded and noisy, with berths starting at first class – a small and functional double cabin with bathroom – and descending in varying permutations through triples and quads with shared toilets, to a bed in sixteen-person cabins. Timing is important: try to avoid leaving Chongqing between 10am and noon, as you’ll hit the first gorge too early and the third too late to see much. Not all ferries pull in at all ports, and schedules can change en route to compensate for delays, so it’s possible that you’ll miss some key sights. At each stop, departure times are announced in Chinese. Meals (buy tickets from the mid-deck office) are cheap, basic and only available for a short time at 7am, 10am and 6pm, though there’s plenty available onshore at stops. Bring snacks and, in winter, warm clothing. Many tourists complain of unhelpful or plain useless tour guides, and of being harassed by ferry staff to buy expensive on-board tickets for observation decks when access is, in fact, free or much cheaper than advertised.

Alternatively, you could travel in style on a cruise ship. These vessels verge on five-star luxury, with comfortable cabins, glassed-in observation decks, games rooms and real restaurants. They’re usually booked out by tour parties during peak season, though at other times you can often wrangle discounts and get a berth at short notice.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

China features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
Video: 10 Taiwanese street foods you need to try

Video: 10 Taiwanese street foods you need to try

Street food in Taiwan has a charm that restaurants just can't match. There's a distinct pleasure to be found in wandering through the labyrinthine stalls glo…

03 Aug 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
7 Chinese street foods you need to try

7 Chinese street foods you need to try

Thanks to China’s sheer enormity, travelling through the country is as much a tastebud odyssey as it is a history lesson. And eating your way around the stre…

27 Jul 2017 • Aimee White insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month