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How to Plan a Panda Tour

How to Plan a Panda Tour

Written by Nora OuUpdated Mar. 3, 2023
Giant panda

There are many places to see lovely giant pandas in China. But where is the best place to go for a special trip? What is the best time to go? How to get there?

We will give you some insider's recommendations and suggestions in this article.


Giant Panda Volunteer Program
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Where Are the Best Places to See Giant Pandas?

See giant pandas in one of panda bases in ChengduYou can see giant pandas in one of the four panda bases in Chengdu.

The four panda bases in Chengdu are the best places to see giant pandas. But which one to go? It depends on how much time you have and what kind of experience you want to have.

Recommended tours:

If it's just to SEE pandas…

If you just want to see giant pandas, we recommend you go to Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Base. It is the most easily accessible panda base. You can see pandas at different ages, from the oldest to the newborns.

This base is huge but usually crowded. A private tour is the best way to get around the base to see the most pandas and get the best experience.

For a deeper panda experience...

If you want to experience more, you can consider a one-day volunteer program at Dujiangyan Panda Base, or longer programs in Wolong Panda Center and Ya'an's Bifengxia Panda Base.

For an in-depth experience, book a private trip to the vast Wolong Panda Center to explore the habitat of wild giant pandas. Enjoy a chance to be the "pandas' private guest" and discover what their nightlife is like.

See the table below for more about the four bases to help you decide which best fits your situation. For more, see The Top 4 Places to See Giant Pandas.

Place Location Activities Visit Crowds?
Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center Chengdu City Seeing pandas ½ day Very crowded
Dujiangyan Panda Base 1½ hours from Chengdu Giant panda volunteer program 1 day Quiet
Wolong Panda Center 3 hours from Chengdu Giant panda, red panda, panda baby volunteer program, hiking in panda habitat 2 days Quiet
Bifengxia Giant Panda Base 3 hours from Chengdu Giant panda volunteer program 2 days or more Quiet

Recommended tours:

Things to Do in Chengdu
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What Kind of Activities Can I Do?

If you are a big fan of giant pandas, here are the activities you can experience to have a close-at-hand time with them. We are experienced in arranging panda activities and some of them are only offered by us. 

The guests are joining a giant panda volunteer programTwo of our guests are joining the giant panda volunteer program.

1. Join in a Giant Panda Volunteer Program

The giant panda volunteer programs are available in three panda bases, Dujiangyan, Wolong and Bifengxia. The duration lasts from 1 to 3 days or longer.

Dujiangyan Panda Base is the best place if you are interested in a one-day program.

Your work includes weighing and cleaning bamboo, making panda cakes, and cleaning pandas enclosures. At the end of the program, you will receive a panda keeper certificate.

Join our 1-Day Dujiangyan Panda Tour to have the once-in-a-lifetime panda keeper experience.

2. Join in a Red Panda Volunteer Program

Plan a panda tour to join a Red Panda Volunteer ProgramYou can have a zero-distance contact with red pandas in the volunteer program.

If you are interested in red pandas, you can join in our red panda volunteer program in Wolong Panda Center.

Different from the giant panda program, it allows you to have a zero-distance encounter with red pandas as you will feed a group of them without a fence in between.

3. Be a One-Day Panda Baby Nanny (Only Offered by Us)

The best and only way is to join in a panda baby keeper program to take care of them for one day.

Panda babyThe lovely panda babies

This is a newly open program and is now only offered by China Highlights.

You will enjoy a chance to observe the panda cubs in the staff-only control room, and help to clean the cubs' bedroom.

Take our private tour to be a baby panda nanny for a day. Come with us immediately to get the world's best job and enjoy an experience that no one else has.

4. Hike into the Habitat of Wild Pandas

Plan a panda tour to hike in the habitat of wild pandas Hike in the habitat of wild pandas.

If you are a lover of pandas and outdoor activity as well, consider having a hike in the habitat of wild pandas in Wolong. Go panda tracking, and see if you will be lucky enough to see a wild panda.

Book a private tour with us and follow our experienced local guide for a better chance to see wild pandas.

Recommended tour4-Days Wolong Panda Nature Reserve Tour

5. Hold a Panda and Take Photos

You might have heard that there was a program allowing visitors to hold a giant panda and take pictures. This program has been suspended since November 2018 for the sake of panda protection.

We will keep you updated if there is any news about the "panda hugging program".

Private Tour, Group Tour, or Travel Alone?

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, but it is at the cost of a lack of flexibility.

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. Our experienced panda guide can help you maximize your experience in your limited time. 

When Is the Best Time to See Giant Pandas?

Plan a panda tour to see baby pandaYou will have a chance to see baby pandas in late summer.

The Best Season to Visit

Giant pandas don't hibernate. You can visit them in all four seasons. Spring and autumn are the best times to see pandas when they are most active and temperatures are most comfortable.

But if you visit between August and November, you will probably see adorable panda babies

If you visit during Chinese holidays, e.g. May 1st–3rd, October 1st–7th, we recommend you visit Dujiangyan or Wolong or Bifengxia Panda Base, which will be less crowded.

The Best Time of Day

The best time to see giant panda is the morningGiant pandas are active in the morning.

Giant pandas spend almost half their days sleeping. So, if you want to see them walking or climbing, it's important to know their general rest schedule.

Grown-up giant pandas in captivity usually eat twice a day: early in the morning and late in the afternoon. They usually sleep around noon, any time from around 10:00 am to around 2:00 pm.

We recommend you get to a panda base as early as possible (8:00 to 10:00 am is optimal), when it is less-crowded and the pandas are at their most active.

See the best time to visit Chengdu and see giant pandas

Recommended tours:

How to Get to the Panda Bases?

There is no direct bus or train from Chengdu city to the four panda bases. The most convenient way is to book a private tour with a private car.

What about Accommodation and Food?

Enjoy a panda tour with us

If you visit Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Base and Dujiangyan Panda Base, you can stay in a hotel in Chengdu city.

If you visit Wolong or Bifengxia Panda Base, you can find a hotel near the base. However, hotel and restaurant options are limited, and the standards are rather basic.

Book a tour with us, and you'll find we carefully select the best restaurants and hotels available to suit you. Our local guide will take care of you at all times, from helping out during your hotel check-in to ordering dishes.

Let's Tailor Make a Panda Tour for You

Just tell us your requirements and interests, and we will help you tailor-make your panda tour

We are here to help you...
start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create Your Trip

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