People nowadays seldom choose waterways to travel between cities, but they are still and always have been an important way of moving goods through the country. Navigable inland waterways in China total 111,000 kilometer and there are some 5,000 berths in the harbors, of which over 1,000 are 10,000 ton class berths. The major inland navigable rivers in China include the Yangtze River, the Pearl River, the Heilongjiang, the Huaihe, the Qiantang, the Minjiang and the Huangpu, as well as the Grand Canal.
The Yangtze River, known as the golden waterway of China's inland river transport, has 6,000 kilometer navigable throughout the year. The annual water transits of both freight and passengers account for over 70% of China's total capacity.
The Pearl river delta is a prime river system for the movement of goods and people. The system is filled with an absolutely amazing wide armada of boats, from barges to sampans to small fishing boats, to barges and hovercraft. Even today you will see a wide array of boats plying the various river systems. Sampans, long famous in China, are still seen in Hong Kong harbor and plying the waters around China. Barges of all types, laden with goods and materials as well as soil and rocks for many of China's development projects can be seen floating upon the waters. Ocean shipping in China is divided into 2 major navigation zones: the northern and the southern zones. Shanghai and Dalian are the main ports in the northern zone, and Guangzhou in the southern zone.
Today, there are more than 20 major coastal harbors in China. Shanghai Harbor ranks among the 10 largest in the world, with an annual capacity of over 100 million tons. Nanjing Harbor, with an annual capacity of 40 million tons, is China's largest river harbor.
The following inland waterway tourist attractions are highly recommended:
Yangtze River Cruise
Grand Canal Cruise
Suzhou and Hangzhou are connected by the Grand Canal, a cruise totaling 146.6 kilometer. The sites along this route are amazing. In Nanjing, Wuxi or Yangzhou, dragon boats and pleasure boats provide for cruises on the Grand Canal - Yangtze River - Taihu Lake Tour. These cruises impart in full the flavor of Chinese poetry and painting. Tourists have the opportunity to enjoy good food while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Li River Cruise
Surrounded by rolling hills, steep cliffs, fantastic caves and groves of bamboo, the Li River, with its fleets of leisure boats, is the largest and most beautiful scenic area in China. The 83 kilometer long waterway from Guilin to Yangshuo - the spirit of Li River, is often called the hundred-mile gallery. Cruising along the Li River, you will be spoilt with stunning and unique scenery and many historical ports.
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