Home Giant Pandas How to plan a panda tour

How to Plan a Giant Panda Tour

There are so many places to see lovely giant pandas in China. But where is the best place to go for a special trip? China Highlights will give you some suggestions in this article.

When Is the Best Time to See Giant Pandas?

baby pandaBaby panda

Giant pandas don't hibernate. You can visit them in all four seasons.

But if you visit a breeding center during late summer or autumn, you will probably have the chance to see adorable panda babies. Giant pandas are usually born in late summer (August mostly). Newborn pandas are tiny and pink, which is said to be the only period in a giant pandas' lifetime when they are "in color" (not black and white).

Mind that you don't visit during Chinese holidays, e.g. May 1st–3rd, October 1st–7th, when zoos and panda bases are packed.

Can I Avoid the Pandas' Sleeping Time?

Many people who have visited a panda base or zoo say that the giant pandas are always sleeping, which is boring. Actually, giant pandas spend almost half their time sleeping. So if you want to see them walking or climbing, it's important to know the general rest schedule.

They usually sleep for 2–3 hours and eat for 3–4 hours in cycles. To keep their energy up, they have to start eating when they wake up. Grown-up giant pandas in captivity usually eat twice a day at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. They usually sleep at noon.

Where Is Best to See Giant Pandas?

giant pandaGiant pandas in Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Base

If you just want to see giant pandas, you can choose the most convenient zoo, such as Beijing Zoo, Guangzhou Chimelong Safari Park, Hong Kong Ocean Park, etc.

If you want to experience more, such as join in a volunteer program to take care of pandas and take pictures with a panda in your arms, you should go to Chengdu, "hometown of the giant panda". There are three panda bases around Chengdu: China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) Dujiangyan Panda Base, Bifengxia Panda Base, and Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Base.

We suggest you visit Dujiangyan Panda Base as it is less visited and easy to get to. Please see the below table for more information about the three places to help you decide which place to go to according to your situation.

Place Location Access Pandas Activities Time needed Crowds?
Dujiangyan Panda Base Dujiangyan — 1½ hours from Chengdu Easy 20 volunteer program, taking pictures with a panda 1 day Quiet
Bifengxia Panda Base Ya'an — 3 hours from Chengdu Quite far 20 Seeing pandas 2 days Quiet
Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center Chengdu City Very easy 50 seeing pandas ½ day Very crowded

How to Get to Chengdu

By Air

shuangliujichangChengdu Shuangliu Airport

Chengdu has a convenient transportation. The main cities in China have direct flights to Chengdu, e.g. Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Guilin, Guangzhou.

It also has international flights to London (UK), Bangkok (Thailand), Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Seoul (South Korea), Tokyo (Japan), Kathmandu (Nepal), Hanoi (Vietnam), Melbourne (Australia), Los Angeles (U.S.A.), etc.

By Train

Chengdu Railway Station is the largest railway station in southwest China. It has direct services to the main cities in China including Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Kunming, and Guilin.

For train schedules and tickets check out our highly-acclaimed Train Ticket Service.

What About Accommodation in Chengdu?  

Chengdu has a variety of hotels ranging from inns to 5-star hotels. We can arrange different hotel for you according to your requirements.

Private Tour, Group Tour, or Travel Alone?

giant pandaWe can help you book a place on a panda program.

There is a daily quota of 20–30 volunteers for the panda keeper programs. If you travel alone, you may not have the chance to book a place on a program.

If you just want to see the pandas, it's much cheaper to join a tour group. On a private tour with us, we can help you book a place on a panda program, and find the most suitable arrangements for you.

How Many Days Do I Need?

If you want to travel around Chengdu, we have a popular 4-Day Giant Pandas and Chengdu Highlights Tour for your inspiration.

If you are planning a family tour to see highlights of China and also experience the Panda Keeper Program, this tour is recommended: 12-Day Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu Pandas, Yangtze River, and Shanghai Tour.

Read on for a one-day panda program itinerary that you can build into your trip plans…

Recommended 4-Day Panda and Chengdu Tour


Day 1. Chengdu Arrival

Your private guide will be on time and transfer you to the hotel.

Day 2. Highlights tour in Chengdu city 

You will visit the Jinsha Site Museum in the morning then pay a short visit to Wenshu Monastery. After lunch, you will be escorted to Wangjiang Park to appreciate the Sichuan-style architectures. And you will be at Jinli Old Street to experience the commercial street with a history for over 2,000 years.

Day 3. Panda Keeper Program at Dujiangyan Panda Base

The activities may includes cleaning the enclosure, weighing and cleaning bamboo, making panda cakes, feeding the pandas, watching a panda movie, and attending a panda lecture. Your will have a chance to taste what the staff eat in the canteen of Dujiangyan Panda Base for lunch.  

Day 4. Chengdu Departure

After breakfast at the hotel, your private guide and driver will escort you to the airport.

Price: from $ 599

Price inclusions:

  • Entrance to scenic spots listed in the itinerary
  • Lunches mentioned in the itinerary
  • Panda keeper program fee
  • English-speaking tour guide and private transfers
  • Hotel with breakfast  
For more details about this tour please see Panda Keeper and Chengdu Highlights Tour.

4-Day Panda and Chengdu Tour

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Your Tour Can be Tailor-Made

If you want to spend more time with the pandas, we can arrange a two-day tour to one of the panda bases in Chengdu. Just tell us your requirements and interests, and we will help you tailor-make your panda tour!

How to Be Courteous / Avoid Trouble When Visiting Pandas

  • Keep quiet when you visit the pandas, especially panda cubs.
  • Don't feed pandas (unless instructed by the staff).
  • Don't use the flash when taking photos of pandas.