I’ve always been blown away by huge sights, whether they’re natural like Victoria falls or man-made like the Pyramids, there’s just something special when you see something for the first time and are left awe-struck. I expected that with the 3 Gorges Dam, the biggest dam in the world.
Ever since I studied geography at high school the 2 Gorge Dam has been on my mind, so on my 5th trip to China I thought I’m definitely gonna finally knock it off the list.
It’s not actually that near anything else worth visiting, lots of people take cruise boats, from Chongqing, up the Yangtze river to near the dam which is fun but quite expensive on a backpacker budget ($300 for 3 days is around the cheapest).
Lots of hostels run tours here too, even from as far as Beijing (18 hours away) and Chengdu (15 hours away), instead I made my way from the Avatar mountains at Zhangjiajie. I was on the way to Beijing, so I stopped off at Yichang on the way, from which the dam is only 30km away.
Yichang is a non-descript, industrial city which is entirely devoid of any hostels, I stayed in the 7 days inn, a chain hotel more set up for business travel, but it served my purpose. They also ran (Chinese) tours to the dam every day for 150RMB ($24) which I jumped on. Leaving at 8.30am, back at 1pm.
We got our tour bus, drove for 45 minutes, went to the dam (where entrance fees alone are 105RMB/$17) and went through our 3 part tour. A viewpoint from 2km from the dam, a viewpoint beside the dam and a viewpoint infront of the dam. It is categorically the most disappointing thing I have ever visited. Ever. Not to mention the endless tourist shops trying to flog you miniature versions of the thing.
Alright, alright it holds more than 100 world records, took 15 years to build yadda yadda yadda. But from a backpacker perspective, it’s an industrial site, you don’t get to go on the actual thing and if you didn’t know it was the world’s biggest, you’d think it was just another dam. It’s not so tall, like the hoover dam, and because you don’t get to actually walk on the thing, there’s no scale for the length of it, which is over 2km.
Was it worth the money and effort? Hmm, probably not although I’m always inclined to see for myself, and then if it’s crap, at least I know it’s crap. And this comes across crap. Happy travels!