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How to Plan a Panda Tour 2024/2025

How to Plan a Panda Tour 2024/2025

Written by Nora OuUpdated Mar. 1, 2024

There are many places to see lovely giant pandas in China. But where is the best place for you to go for a special panda trip? What is the best time to go? We will give you some insiders' recommendations and suggestions on how to plan a panda tour.

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Where Are the Best Places to See Giant Pandas?

The four panda bases around Chengdu are the best places to see giant pandas. Which one is best for you depends on how much time you have and what kind of experience you want to have.

If it's just to SEE pandas…

A panda eating bamboos

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...

There are three recommended activities for a deeper panda experience:

1. Join a panda volunteer program.
Giant panda volunteer programs are available in three panda bases: Dujiangyan, Wolong, and Bifengxia. Their durations are from 1 to 3 days or longer.

Dujiangyan is the best place for a one-day program. If you want a less-crowded environment, consider Wolong and Bifengxia, though they require 2 or more days.

Your work would include weighing and cleaning bamboo, making panda cakes, cutting bamboo leaves for old pandas, watching pandas being fed, and cleaning pandas' enclosures. At the end of the program, you will receive a panda keeper certificate.

Carrying bamboos for pandasOur guest is cleaning the pandas' playground in the volunteer program.

2. Join in a Red Panda Volunteer Program.
Unlike with giant pandas, you can have a zero-distance encounter with red pandas — you can feed a group of them without a fence in between. If you are interested in red pandas, you can join in our red panda volunteer program in Wolong Panda Center.

Feeding red pandas

3. Hike into the Habitat of Wild Pandas.
If you are a lover of pandas and outdoor activity as well, consider having a hike in wild panda habitat in Wolong. Go panda tracking, and see if you will be lucky enough to see a wild panda. See our 2-Day Wolong Panda Volunteer Program Tour.

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

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Panda Tour itineraries

Here are three panda tour itineraries suitable for different needs/interests:

1. One-Day Panda Volunteer Tour

One-day panda volunteer programme

Dujiangyan Panda Base is the best place for a time-smart one-day program.

We will help you maximize your experience in your limited time. Our private transfers and flexible itineraries are the most efficient.

Activities include going into their enclosures, learning where they play, cleaning up, cutting bamboo leaves for old pandas, watching pandas fed at a very close distance, and making their favorite cakes. For more details, see One-Day Dujiangyan Panda Volunteer Program Tour.

There is a daily quota of 60 volunteers for the Panda Volunteer Program. We suggest an early inquiry and booking quickly to secure your place — preferably 3 months in advance.

If you have more time to spend with pandas and want more activities, you could check out our 2-Day Wolong Panda Volunteer Program Tour.

2. 3-Day Chengdu Tour with Pandas, Giant Buddha, and Ancient Towns

Chengdu Leshan Giant BuddhaA photo of our guests with Leshan Giant Buddha

If you want to see other highlights of Chengdu besides pandas, you could check out this itinerary:

  • Day 1: Watch pandas and start a food tour
  • Day 2: Explore Leshan Giant Buddha and ancient towns
  • Day 3: Departure

For more details, check out our 3-Day Giant Panda, Giant Buddha, and Ancient Town Tour

Further reading: Ultimate Chengdu Itineraries: How Long to Spend in Chengdu

3. 2-Week China Tour with Pandas

pandas

If you want a complete China tour itinerary that includes the panda experience, you can check out this itinerary.

Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai are must-see cities. Chengdu is definitely included if you want a panda tour. We also recommend a Yangtze River cruise, which would start in Chongqing near Chengdu, to enjoy China's natural views.

Here is the suggested itinerary:

  • Days 1–4: Beijing arrival and exploration with must-sees including the Great Wall and the Forbidden City
  • Days 5–6: Xi'an sightseeing with a visit to the Terracotta Army and clay-warrior-making experience
  • Days 7–8: Chengdu panda tour with a keeper program — make panda cakes, see pandas being fed at a close distance, and clean their enclosures.
  • Days 9–11: Yangtze River cruise with excursions
  • Days 12–13: Shanghai exploration with a visit to the Bund and some free time.

The Cost of a Panda Tour

It is not expensive to get a ticket to see the pandas. But if you want to have a volunteer program, it may cost a little more, about US$250–300 per person including private transfers, lunch, and a guide.

For a private China trip with a panda experience, the average cost per day is about US$220–350 per person, including flights/trains within China, 4- or 5-star hotels, lunches, attractions, guides, and private transport. Kids under 10 will get 30 to 50 percent off.

Best Times for a Panda Tour

The Best Season to Visit

A cute panda on the tree

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.

As a bonus, 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 Bifengxia Panda Base, which will be less crowded.

The Best Time of Day

Giant pandas spend almost half their time 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 a.m. to around 2:00 p.m.

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

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Accommodation Tips

Wolong Panda BaseWolong Panda Base

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, we suggest staying at nearby hotels, because the two bases are far away from Chengdu or the airport. Getting back and forth that day can be tiring and rushed. Hotel options are limited compared with in the city, and the standards are not as high. But we would carefully select the best hotels available to suit you.

When booking with us, we would coordinate your hotel booking, transfers, and lunch for a stress-free panda experience.

Popular Panda Tours

Just contact us and we'll create your ideal panda trip. We would create an itinerary according to your interests and any other requirements.

Our consultants listen to and answer your inquiries carefully and promptly and prepare the best tour plan for you.

Popular tours
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