Yichang China – Top-10 Tourist Attractions and Activities
The biggest attractions that draw people to Yichang are the Three Gorges Dam and the Three Gorges that lie behind that massive structure. Read on to discover the top 10 tourist attractions in Yichang.
1. The Three Gorges Dam Project
The Three Gorges Dam is the water control project on the Yangtze River in the central section of the Xiling Gorge close to Sandouping Town and Yichang city. It is the world’s largest hydropower project, the most efficient dam in preventing flood control and involved the world’s largest human migration project.
The dam itself is constructed of concrete and steel (the amount of steel used was enough to make the Eiffel Tower, 63 times), it is 2,335 metres long at the top and the top is 185 metres above the water level. Construction took 17 years, opening in 2012 with the ship lift being completed in 2015.
The Dam Scenic Area first opened in 1997 and has been extended as the dam project progressed. The 185 Platform is worth the climb as you are at the same height as the top of the dam and it gives you a chance to see the dam from an elevated position and close-up. The Memorial Garden is in fact a huge open air museum with some of the exhibits being the enormous machines used in the construction of the dam, machines such as excavators and cranes.
To visit the Three Gorges Dam from Yichang, there are several buses that go to Yemingzhu Station or Dongshan Avenue. From either of these stops take the number 8 bus to Liuzhashou Tourist Reception Centre. From here you can take a minibus to the actual dam area. The entrance fee is CNY105 for overseas visitors, Chinese nationals do not have to pay but they must make an online reservation in advance. The minibus is included in the entrance fee; it is open daily from 8am until 5.30pm.
2. The Three Gorges
The three gorges each have their own unique scenery and attractions; they are Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and finally Xiling Gorge.
This gorge is the shortest of the three but also the most spectacular; it begins at Baidicheng in the west and ends at Daxi County at its eastern end. It is 8km long, is the narrowest gorge with the widest part only being 150 meters from cliff to cliff. The highest mountains along this section of the Three Gorges are 1500 metres high making for some wonderful photography.
The Wu Gorge is 46km long and the jagged rocks that tower over the river add to the beauty of this gorge as the river zigzags its way along. Several of the peaks along this section are attractions within themselves. The cliffsides of the Shengnong Stream (a tributary of the Yangtze) is full of hanging coffins adding to the mystery of this area together with the minority culture of the Tujia people.
This gorge is named after the Xiling Mountain in Yichang. It is the longest of the three gorges with a length of 120km. it is reputedly the most dangerous of the three gorges with its combination of high mountains, valleys and on the river itself there are dangerous rocks and shoals.
There are lots of companies operating tours and cruises through the Three Gorges, here is a selection. Yangtze River Cruise Experts run a 5 day cruise from Yichang to Chongqing from CNY3576.80 on a 5 star cruise ship with all meals and accommodation needs catered for. There are several tours off the ship to local attractions. It departs Yichang on a Friday evening and ends on Tuesday evening in Chongqing. The same company also runs 3 day tours in the opposite direction on a different 5 star cruise ship at the same price.
Youlan Tours offer the ultimate luxury tour of 4 days and 3 nights sailing from Chongqing to Yichang on a romantic cruise designed for couples and costing CNY8521.40 per person.
3. The Three Gorges Village
Here you can experience the culture and traditions of the Tujia Ethnic Minority. The village is located on the banks of the Yangtze River where you can witness folk shows, acrobatics as well as song and dance routines. There are also several scenic spots outside the village to explore. You can take a special tourist bus from Yiling Square in Yichang, the buses depart every hour from 7am until 5pm and the journey takes about one hour. The cost is CNY6 or CNY10 on air conditioned buses. The entrance fee is CNY180, it is open daily from 8am until 3.30pm.
4. Chinese Sturgeon Museum
This museum is located in the Chinese Sturgeon Garden in Xiaoxita town in Yichang and set up by the Chinese Sturgeon Research Institute. Their aim is to help preserve the 27 species of this rare and ancient fish. The Chinese Sturgeon has existed for 140 million years; it is the largest freshwater fish and has the longest lifespan. A fully grown adult can weigh more than 500 kilograms and be over 4 metres in length.
Every year the sturgeon return to their breeding ground to spawn their eggs but a water conservation project built in the 1980’s obstructed their route and since then they have been at risk. Through breeding programs over 4.5 million sturgeon have been put into the Yangtze River and the fish is now a protected species. At the museum you can also see other endangered fish and the Chinese Alligator. The entrance fee is CNY48, it is open daily from 7am until 6.30pm and you can take bus numbers 4, 100 or 101 to reach the museum.
5. Qu Yuan’s Hometown
The patriotic poet’s actual home and many historical sites that were related to him were relocated with the building of the Three Gorges Dam, these are now in a cultural tourist zone in Zigui county and about 600 metres from the dam itself.
During Qu Yuan’s lifetime his views were seen by those in power as unfavourable, they wanted the king to fire him, he chose to drown himself and now in his memory the Dragon Boat Festival is held annually. Inside the scenic area are many exhibits to his life and that of the people during the Warring States Period. You can visit this site by bus from the station close to Yichang East Railway Station. The buses depart when full from early each morning until 9pm the cost is CNY18 and it takes about one hour to get to the scenic area. Admission costs CNY90 and you should allow at least 2 hours for your visit.
6. Sanyou Caves
These caves are known in Chinese as 3 Visitors Caves, the area is very scenic with some interesting history which a knowledgeable guide should relate to you during your visit, you should allow one or two hours here. You can get some good views of Xilong Gorge from this vantage point. Across from the entrance is an extreme sports park where you can go bungee jumping among other activities.
This waterfall is about an hour from the centre of Yichang and is part of a beautiful scenic area known as the Three Gorges Waterfalls. There are lots of locally arranged tours to go here and that is easier than taking the bus. From the entrance it is a 4km hike up to the waterfall or you can hire a small cart to take you up there. There are some suspension bridges and observation sites for viewing this structure. You can walk behind the waterfall, for this you will need a raincoat, they sell disposable ones at the entrance for CNY5, the closer you get to the waterfall the more expensive these become, up to CNY20. Allow up to three hours to fully enjoy this spectacular sight. If you have time, another 4km on up the trail are the Golden Lion caves.
8. Tianran Tower
This ancient tower is located in the riverside park just off Yanjiang Avenue and is also known as Nature Tower. It makes an impressive sight beside the river when illuminated during the evening.
9. Huangling Temple
As you disembark from the cruise ship at Yicheng you will see Huangling Temple, it has been restored, rebuilt and repaired several times throughout its 2500 years of use. It was built to honour Da Yu, a locally renowned flood control deity. There are 36 steps up to the gates to the temple and the main hall has 36 supporting pillars. Historical events have been chronologically recorded including disastrous floods, years of low water levels, boat disasters and battles on the river. It is open daily from 8am until 5pm.
10. Dongshan Playgarden of Yichang
This area for outdoor activity in Xiling district has plenty of things to do, it is central and a favourite place for locals to get together, dance and play some traditional Chinese musical instruments and produce some unique music.
The peak tourist season for cruises on the Three Gorges is from April until December. It is at its most beautiful during the rainy season. The summers here are not as hot as elsewhere although Yichang itself can still be unpleasantly hot. Wintertime on the Yangtze can be beautiful, but cold.