In a nutshell
Why You Should Visit Yichang
Most visitors come to Yichang just for the Three Gorges or to begin or end a cruise along the Yangtze River, but there is so much more here than that. It is an ancient city that has a history going back over 4000 years. It was a key strategic site during the Spring and Autumn Periods that lasted from 770BC until 476BC and over centuries some famous battles have taken place here and relics of those battles can be seen today in the city’s museum. It has been the birthplace of some famous Chinese people of the past such as Wang Zhaojun, a concubine during the Western Han dynasty of 206BC-24AD and of Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet during the Warring States Period.
Outside the city there are natural attractions such as waterfalls, mountains, stone forests and caves in the National Forest Park and Natural Reserve. Historical attractions include the relocated hometown of Qu Yuan, the Zhaojun Residence and ancient battle sites.
What’s the Best Time to be in Yichang?
In June and July there is a period in the weather known as the ‘plum rain season’ it is a period of heavy rain showers which can cause problems to transportation and to tourists, so best avoided. The cold winter weather makes it an unpleasant time of year so you should try to plan your trip in the spring or autumn when the climate is at its most pleasant temperature. Lots of oranges are grown in this area and the harvest usually begins in August so this is also a favourable time.
Where to Stay in Yichang
Yichang is not a major city but there is still quite a selection of hotels for you to choose from, at the budget end of the scale there is the SanMao Hostel on Tianchengtian Street in Wujiagang district. It has an 8 bed male dorm or a room of similar size for females with beds available from CNY50 per night. They also have a private room that sleeps four people with the room costing CNY218 per night.
There are a number of hotels in the city available for less than CNY100 per night with a large selection of 3 star hotels available for under CNY200. You can have a good night’s sleep in this city for a lot less than you would pay in one of the major cities in China.
This hotel is worth mentioning, the Yichang International Hotel is on Janjiang Street and overlooks the Yangtze River, it has free WiFi, non-smokinh rooms, one of its 3 restaurants is a revolving restaurant, it is listed as a 4 star hotel yet with out of season discounts it costs just CNY172 per night.
The Crown Plaza Yichang is the highest rated and most expensive hotel in the city with 4.5 stars; it is a well equipped hotel and has good reviews. A night here will cost you CNY462.
What is There to Eat in Yichang?
When going to eat at a restaurant in Yichang you might think you have left Hubei behind and travelled further west to Sichuan province as the food here is closer to that than the traditional Hubei style. Bacon is found here in abundance, as is Chongqing style hot pot and roasted lamb from Xinjiang province.
There are good choices of restaurants from low level food courts, up to mid range and high quality restaurants. The food available in the food courts is often of the same standard of the restaurants, just cheaper. It is a popular choice among families not wanting to wait on food being cooked. You can get a meal sufficient for a small family for under CNY30.
Western food is becoming more popular in the city with fast food outlets such as KFC, Pizza Hut and McDonalds becoming established in the city.
Baren Street is the place in Yichang for street food with Sichuan flavours in abundance, Douhua Fish is highly recommended. For breakfast snacks try Xiaomian, this local dish is a soup of beans and bones with pigs intestines. There are also lots of styles of noodles available. Breakfast is usually no more than CNY6 or 7, often less. Xiaomian street food is found on Huancheng North Road and Fusui Road.
Delicacies Street is the name given to the restaurant area of Zhongshan Road, in addition to the restaurants there are now a few bars appearing too. You can get a good meal for around CNY100-150. There are several night markets (or food streets) that appear late into the evening and remain until the early hours, these are popular places to relax after a hard day. Snacks vary in price from CNY5 up to around CNY20 and a bottled beer will cost around CNY5.
How to Get Around Yichang
The transportation system most readily used to get around Yichang is the bus. Yichang buses have 35 lines that operate to just about every area of the city and the fare is CNY1 or CNY2 on air conditioned buses. Each bus line has its own start and finish scheduled times. Bus 10 operates from the Third Wharf to the Sanyou Caves it runs from 6.40am until 5pm. the number 2 service in the city centre begins at 5.30am and operates until 12.30am. Bus number 8 goes from the city centre to the Three Gorges Dam with the first service at 6am. Most services start around 6am and finish around 9.30pm or 10pm.
There is currently no subway operating in the city although construction on line 2 began in 2017, lines 1 and 3 will begin construction during 2018 with a fourth line expected to be constructed at a later date.
Another choice for transportation in Yichang is the taxi, often the easiest option for visitors and they are available 24 hours each day. The fare begins at CNY6 for the first 2km then rises by CNY1.4 per kilometer. You should not have to pay more than CNY10 if you take a journey in the city centre. Expect to pay a higher fare for a taxi after 12am until 5am. A taxi from Yichang Airport to the city centre should cost no more than CNY60. The river port (New Century Port) to the city centre costs about CNY20, the East Railway Station to the New Century Port is CNY50-60 and a taxi from the airport to the New Century Port costs around CNY100. You should take note that taxi drivers do not speak English and have your destination written in Chinese and show this to the driver.
How to Get To and From Yichang
There are a number of options of how you can arrive into the city of Yichang, the first is by air. Yichang’s Sanxia Airport is 26km from the centre of the city and 55km from the Three Gorges Dam. It is a small airport with flights to 25 destinations in China and one international flight to Busan in South Korea. There are 3 flights daily from Beijing with the cheapest seat available costing CNY760 and taking 2 hours and 10 minutes. You can take 2 flights each day from Shanghai to Yichang, with the time being just under 2 hours and costing from CNY570. There are 3 flights to and from Guangzhou each day, costing from CNY470 and taking exactly 2 hours.
Taxis from the airport to the city centre should cost about CNY60. There is a shuttle bus from the airport into the city, it operates from the time of the first departure until the last arrival each day and costs CNY20 with a journey taking around one hour.
There are three bus stations in the city and express buses arrive from neighbouring cities as well as from further afield such as Chongqing, Beijing, Xian and Guangzhou. Buses also arrive at and depart from the wharf where cruises ships load and their passengers disembark. Several cruise ships arrive late into the night and there are buses waiting to return passengers to Wuhan even at 1am. The river is an important transportation hub and you can take a cruise from Chongqing to Yichang, taking around 12 hours and costing from CNY300-400. Slower and more expensive cruises are available. Another option is cruising from Wuhan or even further along the Yangtze beginning in Shanghai.
The train is the favourite option for most people arriving into Yichang. The station in the city centre is closed and only used for freight. Yichang East Station is located 10km from the city centre where buses or taxis will allow you to complete your journey. There are five direct trains each day from Beijing, 2 of these are high speed trains taking 6 or 7 hours and costing CNY605.5 for a second class seat, the slower trains take from 13 hours to 18 hours and cost a little under CNY350 for a hard sleeper.
There are 10 high speed trains from Shanghai each day taking between 6 hours and 30 minutes up to 8 hours and costing CNY347.5 for a second class seat. There are two slower trains, one taking almost 14 hours and a hard sleeper costs CNY349.5, while the other train takes 22 hours and the same hard sleeper ticket costs CNY373. On this route faster is also cheaper.
Is it Safe in Yichang?
Yichang is extremely safe with no reported incidents of attacks against foreign tourists. You should take care when crossing the street as many drivers ignore traffic signals, so even if you have a green crossing signal take care. Should you fall ill, Yichang is one of the best places in Hubei province to be ill in, as it has a hospital that is registered to provide care to foreign tourists with some English speaking doctors.