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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? What is the best time to go? How to get there? China Highlights will give you some suggestions in this article.

When is the best time to see giant pandas?

baby pandaYou will have chance to see baby pandas in late summer.

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.

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 for seeing 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: 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. For details, please see The Top 4 Places to See Giant Pandas

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
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

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?

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 to Avoid Stressing/Harming the 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.

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! Or see more tours below for inspiration:

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