Overview of Lesser Three Gorges

Lesser Three Gorges (小三峡), or Little Three Gorges, is a favored shore excursion site for Yangtze River cruise travellers and reputed as the “Peculiar Gorges under Heaven” by some celebrities in China. Located at the downstream of Daning River (大宁河), which is the tributary of the Yangtze River at the part of Three Gorges, the Lesser Three Gorges is measured about 60 kilometers long in total. Formed by the Longmen Gorge, Bawu Gorge and Dicui Gorge with different features, Lesser Three Gorges is a to recommended place to savor the outstanding sightseeing of beautiful water, emerald mountains and other interesting culture and local history.

What to See at Lesser Three Gorges

Lesser Three Gorges, famous for its charming sceneries has a lot to treat your visual sense. Once you arrive there, don’t miss the Longmen Gorge of magnificence, Bawu Gorge of Peculiarity, and Dicui Gorge of serenity. Let’s see the details of each one at below.

Longmen Gorge

Longmen Gorge (龙门峡), literarily as Dragon Gate Gorge is the first gorge at Lesser Three Gorges Scenic Area, with the length of about 3km. at the mouth of this gorge, two mountains face each other with a thin strip of sky can be seen, which forms like a gate, therefore, Longmen Gorge is complimented by tourists as the “Little Kui Gate”. Visiting this beautiful gorge, your time will be filled with interest and happiness. Taking the local boat, you could enjoy the special peaks and stones, flying springs and waterfalls, ancient hanging coffins, and the relics of ancient trestle road along the banks. Moreover, since this tourist attraction is kept well to maintain its original condition, sometimes, monkeys could be seen there on the green cliffs.

Famous attractions: Shishou Gate, ancient trestle road relics, Lingzhi Peak, Yinwo Shoal, Mojiao Shoal, etc.

Bawu Gorge

Bawu Gorge (巴雾峡, Misty Gorge literarily) is featured with its peculiarity. This gorge is about 10km long. And on the two banks, a lot of stones of different special shapes form groups of lifelike natural sculptures. You could see on the east cliff, there is a long stone look like a returning giant dragon, and a fierce tiger shaped round stone on the opposite bank. Besides, Bawu Gorge is also called Tieguan (Iron Coffin) Gorge, since there is a black hanging coffin on the cliff at the east bank of the river, which looks like made of black iron.

Famous attractions: peculiar stones, hanging coffin, etc.

Dicui Gorge

Dicui Gorge (滴翠峡) means emerald green gorge and is the longest, deepest, most serene, and most elegant on among the three, with a complete length of about 20km from Shuanglong to Tujiaba. In Dicui Gorge, you could admire multiple beautiful peaks with precipitous cliffs, lush forests, flying waterfalls from high places, and so forth. Just within this one gorge, you could experience the mighty strength and the exquisite sceneries of nature, and that is why it is reputed as “the most elegant sightseeing is at Dicui Gorge”.

Famous attractions: Shuilian Cave, Moyan Buddhist Statue, Mianyang Shoal, Little Three Gorges, Dengtian Peak, trestle road, hanging coffin, etc.

Little Lesser Three Gorges

Little Lesser Three Gorges (小小三峡) has narrower water path, so it has such name. You could enjoy more authentic natural sceneries at this area. There the mountains look more precipitous, and valleys more serene and deeper. Listed as a “National AAAAA Tourist Attraction”, the Little Lesser Three Gorges, formed by Changtan Gorge, Qinwang Gorge and Sancheng Gorge, shows various shapes of strange peaks, the romantic scenery of mountains reflecting upon water, harmonious natural landscapes. Besides, the swimming fishes could be seen in the crystal clear, thus you could feel getting closer to nature.

Famous attraction: Changtan Gorge, Qinwang Gorgem, Sancheng Gorge, etc.

Local Sightseeing Boat

The Lesser Three Gorges is very narrow to hold cruise ship to sail along, so you will travel this place by taking a local sightseeing boat. On the simple and pure vehicle, local guide will give good introduction of this tourist attraction, and tell you the interesting culture and history about it. You could feel leisure to enjoy the rare time to get close to nature. The whole visit to and back may take about 3-4 hours according to the practical conditions.

Lesser Three Gorges - Little Three Gorges Longmen Gorge at Lesser Three Gorges
Lesser Three Gorges - Bawu Gorge Peculiar Bawu Gorge
Lesser Three Gorges - Small Three Gorges Elegant Dicui Gorge
Lesser Three Gorges - Little Lesser Three Gorges More Natural Little Lesser Three Gorges
Excursion to the Lesser Gorges Visit Lesser Three Gorges on Local Boat

Location & Transportation to Lesser Three Gorges

Lesser Three Gorges has a driving distance of about 430km east from Chongqing and 210km west from Yichang city.

Customer Choices | Best Yangtze River Cruises with Lesser Three Gorges

At present, only Yangtze Gold Cruise ships and downstream Yangtze Explorer include shore excursions to visit the Lesser Three Gorges at Wushan County (other cruises would choose Shennv Stream, Shennong Stream, or Goddess Sky Road instead), so cruise travellers taking those ships could visit this beautiful place during your cruise time. With the leading of the local guide from the cruise ship, you don’t need to worry about how to get to the tourist attraction.

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Chongqing to the Lesser Three Gorges - By Bus/Car

For other visitors, you could start from Chongqing city, by taking a coach from Chongqing Longtousi South Bus Station (龙头寺汽车南站) or Longtousi North Bus Station (龙头寺汽车北站) to Wushan Bus Station for about 5-6 hours, then you could transfer to a local taxi to the Lesser Three Gorges Tourist Port to take the local sightseeing boat to enjoy your visit to the Lesser Three Gorges.

Besides, you could also get there from Yichang, by taking a coach from Yichang Bus Terminal (宜昌汽车客运中心) to Wushan Bus Station for about 4-5 hours.

Weather & Best Time to Go to Lesser Three Gorges

Lesser Three Gorges belongs to the central subtropical climate. The annual average temperature is about 18.4, with the lowest during January with 7.1 averagely and hottest in July with 29.3 averagely. Within Wushan area, it is sunny and light in autumn, misty continuously in winter and often rain a lot in summer seasons. Moreover, climate changes irregularly when spring changes to summer, when it is usually cloudy in the morning and raining at night.

You could visit Lesser Three Gorges in any time of a year, however, from March to August is the best time, when you could savor more emerald scenery and enjoy the comfortable weather. Moreover, from late November to December every year, Wushan Mountain is colored by the fiery red leaves all around. You can also visit during that period to join in the international festival of red leaves in Wushan. Nice time for photographing.

Tips: during July and August, it is hot at Lesser Three Gorges, and wearing short T-shirts is suitable. Besides, it often rains at in Wushan area, especially during July and August, so take your umbrella and raincoat when visiting there.

Lesser Three Gorges - Wushan Red Leaves Fabulous Red Leaves of Wushan Mountain

How to Plan a China Yangtze Tour?

2024 Yangtze River Cruise Routes:

  • 4 Days Chongqing to Yichang; 5 Days Yichang to Chongqing;
  • 4 Days Wuhan to Nanjing; 4 Days Nanjing to Wuhan;
  • 10 Days Chongqing to Nanjing; 10 Days Nanjing to Chongqing;
  • 11 Days Chongqing to Shanghai; 12 Days Shanghai to Chongqing. More about 2024 all yangtze river cruise routes & itineraries >>

Best Time to Visit:

Transportation Tips:

  • Flight to Chongqing/Yichang from Beijing/Guangzhou/Shanghai/Hong Kong……
  • High Speed Train to Chongqing from Xian/Chengdu/Guilin/Guiyang/Beijing……; High Speed Train to Yichang from Wuhan/Changsha/Beijing/Shanghai……
  • Drive from Yichang to Zhangjiajie/Shennongjia/Enshi…… More about How to Get to Yangtze River Cruise Ports >>

Over 90% cruiser would choose the classic Chongqing-Yichang Three Gorges Itinerary, which only takes 4 to 5 days, as their first encounter with the Yangtze River. Then, they will leave some time to visit surrounding highlights or explore famous landing cities. So, a China Yangtze tour can extend from 4 days to a month, or even more.

To/From nearby Hot China Destinations (Chongqing, Chengdu, Zhangjiajie, Guilin…)

Chongqing(重庆) is known as the most essential starting point for a classic Yangtze River cruise. The city has gained international recognition in recent years for its unique tridimensional cityscape, 8D transportation system, and cyberpunk-style buildings and architecture, which have attracted a growing number of tourists to the city. Usually, a leisure landscape tour in Chongqing city requires 2~3 days. It’s recommended that you extend your journey to the surrounding UNESCO heritage sites like Wulong - the famous Karst Landscape in blockbuster Transformers (1-2 days) and Dazu - the last monumental works in the history of world grottoes art (1 day).

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Useful Links: 1~3 Days Chongqing Tours 2024 | How to Plan a Chongqing Tour >>

How to Plan a China Yangtze Tour Our Guests Take a Photo with Hongya Cave

Chengdu(成都), a 1~1.5-hour high-speed train from Chongqing, is known as the hometown of the Giant Pandas and  UNESCO’s City of Gastronomy. Take 1~2 days to meet these cuties and keep yourself in the “laid-back” living pace like a local while wandering around parks, museums, ancient pedestrian streets, and temples in the downtown area, you will probably understand why people say Chengdu is a city you don't want to leave. Moreover, Chengdu is the gateway to so many UNESCO world heritage sites, including Jiuzhaigou (3 days), Mount Emei (2 days), Leshan Giant Buddha (1 day), Dujiangyan (0.5-1 day), etc., and astonishing hidden plateau - Western Sichuan (3~7 days).

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Useful Links: 1~7 Days Chengdu Tours 2024 | Top Sichuan Tours 2024 | How to Plan a Chengdu Tour >>

How to Plan a China Yangtze Tour Giant Panda Breeding Research Base in Chengdu

Zhangjiajie(张家界), a 4.5-hour two-train transfer from Yichang, offers the most distinct and iconic landscape of the Hollywood blockbuster Avatar. Let along adrenalin-pumping Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge and frightening skywalks and sharp zigzag driving roads at Tianmen Mountain National Forest Park, the uncanny natural wonders in Zhangjiajie (3~5 Days) attracting countless adventurers and travel addicts from all over the world!

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How to Plan a China Yangtze Tour Chona from Philippines visited Tianzi Mountain, Zhangjiajie

Guilin(桂林), located 4-5 hours away by high-speed train from Chongqing, is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, making it a must-visit destination in China. Generally, Li River, Yangshuo County, and Longji Rice Terraces are the three most popular and separate destinations.  For most travelers to Guilin, 3-5 days is enough to cover the highlights by using a private car. 

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How to Plan a China Yangtze Tour Claire from UK visited Yangshuo Countryside

From/To Classic China Destinations (Beijing/Shanghai/Xian/Hong Kong/Guangzhou…)

Guests who are visiting China for the first time probably would choose Beijing (the capital of China, recommended travel days: 3~4 days), Shanghai (the largest and most developed and populated city of China, recommended travel days: 2~4 days), Guangzhou (the third biggest city in China, recommended travel days: 2~3 days) or Hong Kong (a convenient transit hub with mainland China, recommended travel days: 2~3 days) as their first stop, as all these four destinations process excellent infrastructure and multi-dimensional transportation networks connecting the whole of China. How to arrange your travel route? Our top-pick China Yangtze Tour itineraries may bring you some inspiration!

☛ (Beijing/Xian/Chongqing/Yangtze Cruise/Yichang/Shanghai) 11 Days China Golden Triangle Tour with Yangtze River Cruise

☛ (Beijing/Xian/Chengdu/Yangtze Cruise/Zhangjiajie/Shanghai) 15 Days China Best Treasure Tour with Yangtze Cruise & Zhangjiajie Landscape

☛ (Hong Kong/Guilin/Chengdu/Chongqing/Yangtze Cruise/Yichang/Shanghai) 12 Days China Splendid Tour from Hong Kong

☛ (Shanghai/Yichang/Yangtze Cruise/Chongqing/Chengdu/Lhasa/Xian/Beijing) 17 Days China Yangtze Tour with Tibet & Giant Panda Visit

☛ (Hong Kong/Guilin/Chengdu/Yangtze Cruise/Zhangjiajie/Shanghai/Xian/Beijing) 21 Days China Holiday with Yangtze River Cruise Tour

Useful Links: Yangtze River Cruise Tour from Beijing | Yangtze River Cruise Tour from Shanghai | Yangtze River Cruise Tour from Hong Kong >>

Check more details about 2024 Top China Yangtze Tours >>

How to Plan a China Yangtze Tour Alexia visited Mutianyu Great Wall How to Plan a China Yangtze Tour Terracotta Warriors, Shared by Chris How to Plan a China Yangtze Tour Lujiazui, Shanghai

Travel Yangtze River with China Discovery

Have your own ideas of where and what to discover before, during and after the Yangtze River cruise tour? We China Discovery offers many popular and valuable private China tour packages with Yangtze River Cruise vacation taking you to enjoy wonderful exploration of the best highlights of Three Gorges, Chongqing, Yichang, Zhangjiajie, Chengdu, Xian, Guilin, Wuhan, etc. And our professional travel team with experienced travel expert, local English-speaking travel guide and driver and non-smoking comfortable licensed private vehicle will help you throughout the trip from the planning, navigation, hotel arrangement and scenic spot visiting. So you will have the much better travel experience on and around the extensive Yangtze River. You can check our tour packages to get some inspiration. All tours can be tailor-made according to your group size, time, physical condition, plan, interests, budget and any other special need! Please feel free to contact us to customize your own China Yangtze River Cruise trip or if you need any help!

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