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There are so 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? China Highlights will give you some suggestions in this article.
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).
If you visit during Chinese holidays, e.g. May 1st–3rd, October 1st–7th, when zoos and panda bases are packed, you are suggested to visit Dujiangyan, or Wolong Panda Base, which will be less crowded.
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.
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: Dujiangyan Panda Base, Wolong 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.
|Dujiangyan Panda Base||Dujiangyan — 1½ hours from Chengdu||Easy||20||volunteer program, taking pictures with a panda||1 day||Quiet|
|Wolong Panda Center||Ya'an — 3 hours from Chengdu||Quite far||30||Volunteer program, hiking in panda habitat||2 days||Quiet|
|Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center||Chengdu City||Very easy||50||seeing pandas||½ day||Very crowded|
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.
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.
Chengdu has a variety of hotels ranging from inns to 5-star hotels. We can arrange different hotel for you according to your requirements.
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.
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.
For more details about this tour please see Panda Keeper and Chengdu Highlights Tour.
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! Or see more tours below for inspiration: