The Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer River Cruise

A Yangtze River Cruise is one of the must do's on a tour to China. From Chongqing, board your cruise and sail through the dramatic landscape, spectacular scenery, and marvel at engineering feats. Visit ancient sites, local markets and see the natural beauty of the Three Gorges Dam as it makes its way through the famous Three Gorges: the Qutang Gorge, Wuxia Gorge, and Xiling Gorge.

Best time for this cruise: May, Sep, Oct

Prices are seasonal and start from:

From Jun to August GBP 1074 per person sharing a deluxe cabin. Full board. All transfers and tours

April / November GBP 1387 per person sharing a deluxe cabin. Full board. All transfers and tours.

May, Sep-Oct GBP 1453 per person sharing a deluxe cabin. Full board. All transfers and tours.



  • Largest cabins and suites on river, all with private balconies
  • Spacious spa with variety of treatments
  • Carefully planned itineraries with variety of on board activities and site visits
  • Personalised service due to smaller number of passengers than other boats
The Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer River Cruise at a glance
  • Day 1: Departure from Chongqing
  • Day 2: Cruise on the Yangtze
  • Day 3: Cruise on the Yangtze
  • Day 4: Arrival in Yichang
The Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer River Cruise Image 1

Day 1: Departure from Chongqing

Arrival at Chongqing airport. Transfer with guide and driver to Chongqing pier.

you’ve settled into your cabin you can join your fellow guests in the Explorer Bar. The large windows allow you to enjoy the nighttime cityscape of Chongqing as we sail deeper into the Three Gorges region of the mighty Yangtze River.

Tonight, we will host an optional embarkation dinner* followed by a welcome safety briefing and talk on the 816 Underground Project, before we depart Chongqing.

The Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer River Cruise Image 2

Day 2: Cruise on the Yangtze

Start your morning with an early bird tea or coffee and a traditional Tai Chi lesson, led by our certified Tai Chi Master and work up an appetite for the buffet breakfast.

This morning, choose between a visit to an intriguing, secret project, hidden in the mountains of Fuling - The 816 Underground Project or the White Crane Ridge Underwater Project and a local market tour.

The 816 Underground Project is the world’s largest artificial military cave. Over 50 years ago, more than 60,000 constructors, came to Jianzishan, an uninhabited place among mountains and forest, to start work on a top-secret construction project of a monumental scale. The work continued for 17 years and was nearly completed when the government decided to suspend it before any nuclear material could be produced. Now as the secrets of military caves are revealed, you will be able to look at the true face of the 816 projects hidden for 50 years.

Alternatively, you can choose to visit the White Crane Ridge Underwater Project and local market tour. The Project will take you some 130 feet underwater to admire the river bed and the intricate ancient rock carvings left there many years ago. Learn about the Yangtze River, its flora and fauna while enjoying this fascinating Project. Your next stop will be the local market, where you will gain insight into the region’s rich culinary culture. This is a daily market where farmers meet to buy and sell a variety of goods, ranging from fruit and vegetables to fish and meat, and of course a whole array of pickles - which Fuling is famous for.

Return to Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer for a lunch buffet in the Dynasty Dining Room, followed by demonstrations such as Chinese foot reflexology and traditional Chinese medicine in the Tang Theatre.

Learn about beautiful pearls in this afternoon’s lecture, Pearls of the World. This is followed by the Captain’s welcome reception, complete with complimentary canapé’s.

Tonight, you have a chance to attend an epic open-air live-action show*, dramatizing the lives and battles of feudal lords and their armies from the ancient Han dynasty. Based on the famous 14th-century novel ‘The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the story is part historical, part legend, and part mythical. The show includes battles on horseback, light and aquatic special effects, 3D holographic projection and fireworks, with the Yangtze River as the background, and a 180-degree all-swivel auditorium.

For those who choose to disembark at Zhongxian County for the Three Kingdoms Open Air Show, a late buffet dinner will be available upon their return. Guests who decide to remain onboard can indulge in an a la carte dinner before guests reconvene for karaoke and a live band performance.

The Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer River Cruise Image 3

Day 3: Cruise on the Yangtze

Today is all about the striking Three Gorges; Qutang, Wu and Xiling.

Enjoy a tea or coffee and practise your Tai Chi before the commentary on the Qutang Gorge begins on the Explorer Deck.

A breakfast buffet is served before guests return to Deck 6 as we pass through the Wu Gorge. Through the commentary, discover the myths and facts that make each gorge unique as we pass through them.

Experience a unique ride along the Shennong Stream on a sampan - a traditional longboat rowed by expert Tujia boatmen. As we gently float through this stunning riverine gorge flanked by verdant forest, you’ll see evidence of early settlements in the form of hanging coffins stowed high within the limestone cliffs.

Before returning we will visit a traditional trackers village, where you will have a chance to get a fascinating glimpse of the traditional, rural Chinese community. You’ll find mud huts as homes, basic kitchens where the meat is dried on hooks and coffins in the bedroom. And, while there are satellite dishes, villagers still pride their heritage.

This evening we have prepared a special farewell dinner, ‘A Taste of China’, followed by a Three Gorges Project lecture and a live band performance.

The Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer River Cruise Image 4

Day 4: Arrival in Yichang

Enjoy a tea or coffee alongside an international buffet breakfast before disembarking in Maoping and visiting the Three Gorges Project Dam Site and Exhibition Centre.

Spanning 2,335 metres in length and 181 metres in height, the dam is the largest and most expensive engineering project in the world. While the dam’s 32 generators produce enough clean energy to reduce China’s reliance on coal, the project has also caused much controversy. During construction, 13 cities, 140 towns, 1,352 villages, over 600 industrial factories and more than 1,200 archaeological projects have been submerged and 1.2 million people resettled.

After visiting the Project, you will be transferred to the Yichang for your onward journey.


Not quite right? This itinerary is just to give you an idea of what is possible. Need some more inspiration? Please get in touch at 01473 214305 or email We welcome your questions. We're here to help!



Yangtze River

Cruise the River through inland plain and jungle, past the stunning 21st Century skylines of Chongqing and Yichang to the spectacular natural beauty of the unforgettable Three Gorges.

Read more


Yangtze River Cruising, Luxury Class
The Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

The Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer introduces a new standard of cruising in China - more intimate and luxurious. With the largest cabins and suites on the river, all with private balconies

Read more