Where to Go for Chinese River Photography

Chinese river

China has a number of beautiful rivers that make great photography subjects.

If you have a trip to China coming up, keep reading. We’ll tell you all of the best spots to visit for Chinese river photography, plus some helpful tips so you can make the most your vacation.

Best Rivers To Visit

Some of the top places to visit for Chinese river photography include:

The Li River

The Li River is one of the most popular Chinese river photography locations, and for good reason.

In addition to the river itself, there are many spots on or near it that make great photography subjects.

Fishing lights

A popular photography shot is the fishing lights on the river. Fishermen turn on their lights one by one as dusk falls on the river, creating a scene that makes for a fantastic photo.

To get a good photo of the fishing lights, you will need to arrive in the early morning or evening. It is best to take photos from the Yangshuo Bridge or from the nearby town of Xingping.

There are not as many fishermen on the Li River as there once was. However, you can arrange for fishermen to pose in traditional attire ahead of time.


There are also many beautiful hills along the shores of the Li River. Visit any of them to get different views of the river. Some hills that you must visit include:

  • Nine Horses Fresco Hill
  • Xianggong Hill
  • 20 Yuan Banknote Hill
  • Laozhai Hill
  • Shutong Hill

The Yulong River

The Yulong River is located in Northern Yangshuo County and is a tributary of the Li River.

The natural landscape of the Yulong River is beautiful and serene. You can spend hours getting all kinds of unique shots of rural life. Some interesting subjects you might find on this river include:

  • Karst hills
  • Bamboo forests
  • Water buffalo
  • Famers tending rice paddies
  • Fishermen
  • Village women washing clothes
  • Children swimming

There are also a number of historical attractions on the Yulong River if you want to capture more than just the scenery. Three famous, ancient bridges that cross over the river are definitely worth visiting: the Yulong Bridge, the Fuli Bridge, and Xiangui Bridge.

Take photos of the bridges themselves, or take photos from them for a different perspective.

The Yellow River

The Yellow River is the second longest river in China and is known as the “cradle of Chinese civilization.”

The scenery of the Yellow River looks very different compared to other rivers in the country. Photos of it will add some variety to your collection.

The river’s beautiful Hukou Waterful is one of its most popular attractions.

In addition to the waters of the river itself, you can also capture photos of the deserts and grasslands surrounding it.

The Yangtze River

The Yangtze River is China’s largest and longest river. It runs through 11 provinces in the country.

As you travel through the different areas that the river passes through, you can capture the unique elements of each one.

One of the most popular attractions that you will see when visiting the Yangtze River is the Three Gorges Dam.

The largest dam project in the world, the Three Gorges Dam should absolutely be photographed to keep as part of your Chinese river photography collection.

The Tuojiang River

The Tuojiang River is surrounded by mountains and is filled with crystal-clear water.

The area surrounding the river is quiet and peaceful, so you will be able to take your time there and capture many photos of the water and green hills without worrying about dodging tourists.

The fog that rolls in around the river in the early mornings is also a sight worth photographing. Early in the morning — around 5:30 a.m. — is the best time to arrive in order to capture the fog.

The Lijiang River

The Lijiang River, located in the popular tourist city of Yangshuo, is a beautiful place to visit to practice your river photography.

The river’s clear water shows reflections of the mountains and caves that surround it, making it easy for you to produce stunning photos of the area.

Like the Tuojiang River, there is also often fog around the Lijiang River in the early mornings that makes for a special photo.

Tips For Great Chinese River Photography

As a photographer, you know that there are certain things you need to keep in mind in order to make sure you get a great shot. Follow these tips throughout your trip, and you’ll return with great photos you’ll want to share with everyone.

Time Your Trip Just Right

The best time for Chinese river photography is between May and October. During these months, the days are longer, the temperatures are warmer, and the light is generally better.

From November to February, the water is low, so you won’t be able to capture the river as well as you could in other months.

Avoid Tourists

Some rivers get a lot of tourist attention, making it difficult for photographers to get quality shots.

To avoid cruise ships and fishing boats and the people who come with them, head to the river in the early morning or late afternoon. Crowds will most likely have died down by then, and you’ll have the place to yourself.

Know How To Capture The Water

How frustrating would it be to travel to these different Chinese rivers and not have your pictures turn out?

Keep in mind these basic tips for photographing rivers to make sure you send up with the highest quality photos possible.

  • Use a slow shutter speed
  • Use a tripod
  • Use the timer function on your camera
  • Use your camera’s mirror lock-up function if possible

Learn More About China Photography

In addition to photographing China’s beautiful rivers, you may be looking to capture some other areas of the country during your visit.

Check out some of our other posts to learn more about China’s landscapes and other beautiful places to visit throughout the country.

Do you know of any other Chinese rivers that photographers must see during their trip? What are your tips for capturing great river photos? Comment below and let us know!

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