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Three Gorges Dam Five-Step Ship Lock Tours

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.

The Basics
Few Yangtze River cruise ships pass through the Three Gorges Dam Five-Stage Ship Lock nowadays—almost all Three Gorges cruises start or end at Maoping Port, west of the dam. See the ship lock as part of a Three Gorges Dam sightseeing tour; the Tanziling Ridge, part of the Three Gorges Dam visitor park, offers great views, albeit at a substantial fee. Book tours as a standalone trip from Yichang or as an add-on to a Three Gorges cruise out of Chongqing.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • The Three Gorges Dam Ship Lock is a must for fans of engineering.
  • It can take several hours for vessels to pass through all five stages of the ship lock.
  • The Three Gorges Dam is a challenging destination for travelers who use wheelchairs.

How to Get There
The Three Gorges Dam Ship Lock ascends the Three Gorges Dam about 37 miles (60 kilometers) northwest of Yichang city in Hubei. View it from the Tanziling Ridge, part of the Three Gorges Dam tourist site. Catch bus 8 from Yichang East railway station, take a tourist boat from Yichang’s old ferry port, or book an add-on to your Three Gorges cruise.

When to Get There
Hot, wet summers and surprisingly cool winters make spring and fall the best seasons to visit the Three Gorges area in general, although if the Three Gorges Dam is the focus of your visit, July and August offer the best chance of seeing water released. Avoid the major Chinese holidays, particularly Golden Week, at the start of October.

Ship Lift or Ship Lock?
There are now two ways for ships to ascend and descend the Three Gorges Dam, which has a maximum height of 607 feet (185 meters). Larger craft can traverse using the Three Gorges Dam Ship Lock, which generally takes 3–4 hours. Smaller vessels can ascend the ship lift in under an hour.
Address: Yangtze River, China
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