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Things to Do in Yangtze River

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Three Gorges (Sanxia)

China’s signature river trip, a Three Gorges (Sanxia) cruise is the defining experience of the Yangtze, Asia’s longest river. Famed for their beauty for more than 1,000 years, the Three Gorges have been reshaped by the rising waters of the Three Gorges Dam. But the magic of Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge, and Xiling Gorge endures.

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Goddess Peak (Shennu Feng)

Goddess Peak (Shennu Feng) is where the goddess Yao Ji is believed to be immortalized in stone, watching over the Yangtze River below. This highest of the twelve peaks comprising the Wu Gorge is thought to resemble a woman standing on the river’s northern shore.

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Lesser Three Gorges (Little Three Gorges)

A popular side trip from the classic Three Gorges Yangtze cruise, the Lesser Three Gorges extend along the Daning River, a Yangtze tributary that meets the main river at Wu Gorge. Also known as the Little Three Gorges, Small Three Gorges, or Xiao Sanxia, the three are: Dragon Gate Gorge (Longmen Xia), Emerald Gorge (Dicui Xia), and Misty Gorge (Bawu Xia).

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Daning River

One of a number of Chinese rivers that share this name, the Daning River is a tributary of the Yangtze and meets the main river at Wu Gorge, one of the Three Gorges, by the town of Wushan. Travelers mainly know the Daning River for the Three Little Gorges: Dragon Gate Gorge (Longmen Xia), Misty Gorge (Bawu Xia), and Emerald Gorge (Dicui Xia).

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Fengdu Ghost City

A few hours north of Chongqing on the north banks of the Yangtze River sits one of the most bizarre (and bizarrely popular with Chinese tourists) sites in China: Fengdu Ghost City. This temple complex atop a hill overlooking the river offers a vivid representation of the three tests that the dead must pass to enter the netherworld.

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Three Gorges Dam Five-Step Ship Lock

Scaling the monumental Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River near Yichang city in Hubei, the Three Gorges Dam Five-Step Ship Lock is one of the largest in the world. Large freight ships ascend or descend 40 stories in five separate stages, while many smaller vessels use the ship elevator (ship lift), which is the world’s biggest.

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Shennong Stream (Shennong Xi)

A popular side trip on a Three Gorges cruise, the Shennong Stream (Shennong Xi) meets the Yangtze River between Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge opposite the town of Badong. Trips typically wind through Mianzhu (Bamboo) Gorge, Yingwu (Parrot) Gorge, and Longchang (Thriving Dragon) Gorge, past a number of Tujia minority villages.

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Three Gorges Dam (Sanxia Daba)

China’s largest construction project since the Great Wall and the biggest dam in the world in terms of installed capacity, the Three Rivers Dam spans 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) and is more than 600 feet (183 meters) tall. The dam is an impressive feat of engineering despite the controversy surrounding its environmental and human impacts.

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