Shibaozhai, China, Apex of the Shibaozhai Pagoda
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Photo Credit: iStock / jejim | Apex of the Shibaozhai Pagoda

Shibaozhai, China

Set 180 miles downstream from the city of Chongqing along a scenic stretch of the Yangtze River, Shibaozhai is home to a singular star attraction: a four-century-old, 12-story temple, elegantly perched on a clifftop, and regularly romanticized as “the Pearl of the Yangtze.” Visitors can access the complex via an atmospheric swing bridge, and afterward they can shop at the many merchants in the adjacent village.

What We Love

Souvenir Shops Galore: Along the walk to and from the temple, you encounter lots of shops and outdoor vendors hawking all sorts of wares. It’s a great place to stock up on mementos during your Yangtze cruise.

Best Known For

Shibaozhai Temple: Dating to 1650, this red wooden pavilion-and-temple complex is a standout example of Chinese temple architecture. Inside, chambers are filled with carvings, murals, and other relics, while the overlooks reveal panoramic views of the river and surrounding countryside below.

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Who It's Best For

The Superstitious: The temple is riddled with legends and local lore, involving everything from ducks to rice to goddesses (ask your guide to share more stories). Our favorite: It’s said that with each level you climb, more of your wishes will come true.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Careful with the Climb: Ascending and descending the religious structure’s 12 stories is no easy feat, particularly when the narrow and steep stairwells are clogged with large tour groups. Not up to it? No problem — just taking in the sight of the picturesque pagoda is reward enough.

Elissa Garay

Elissa Garay is a Brooklyn-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure.

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