Pandas In Chengdu
Want to know the best way to visit pandas in Chengdu, then you’ve come to the right place!
Giant Pandas or literally “large bear cats” (大熊猫 Dà xióngmāo) have to be what Chengdu is most famous for. Known as China’s “national treasure” in recent years pandas have become synonymous not only with Chengdu but with China as a whole.
Pandas have become world famous, known for their clumsy behaviour, love of napping and never-ending hunger for bamboo they are definitely up there with the world’s cutest animals.
- Learn some interesting panda facts
- Get to know the main places there are to visit pandas in Chengdu
- Find out how to be a Panda Volunteer
- Panda Diplomacy, what’s that?
They are so adorable that when WWF was formed in 1961 they chose the panda for their logo, making it the number one symbol for animal conservation.
- Panda’s are often referred to as “living fossils” because they have been around for over three million years!
- There are two types of panda: Giant pandas and red pandas (小熊猫 xiǎoxióngmāo) literally translating to “small bear cat”
- Wild pandas can now only be found in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces
- In the wild 99% of a pandas diet consists of bamboo
- Due to the low nutrition of bamboo pandas spend over 12 hours eating each day!
- As of 2014 there were 1,864 giant pandas living in the wild
- Pandas are the most expensive animal to keep in captivity
- In China pandas are a symbol of peace, in ancient China warring tribes would fly a panda flag to call a truce
Panda’s in Chengdu – LTL’s Guide
Given the fame of the giant panda it goes without saying that no visit to Chengdu is complete without seeing the pandas so we’ve got the perfect guide to pandas in Chengdu!
Top tips for visiting pandas
First of all here are some top tips to make sure you know how to make the most out of your trip to visit pandas in Chengdu:
- Get there as early as possible, ideally for feeding time because this is when the pandas will be most active. If you visit in the afternoon then you can expect to see pandas enjoying their favourite past-time – sleeping!
- If you have enough time make the effort to go to one of the less popular panda bases, they take longer to get there but are way less busy!
- Try to avoid visiting the pandas in summer, the best time is September to the following June. In summer the pandas tend to stay inside where there is aircon – if you’ve lived through a Chengdu summer you’ll understand why!
Chengdu Research Base
This is Chengdu’s most famous panda breeding centre and the easiest to get to. About 10km from downtown Chengdu.
You can reach the centre easily by bus or taxi.
Home to over 100 giant pandas this is the most popular breeding centre to visit so be prepared for crowds!
The base has created a natural living environment for their pandas with large enclosures so sometimes the pandas might be hard to spot!
Tip: If you want to make sure you get some great panda photos bring along a camera with a good zoom.
Along with the giant panda the base is also home to their smaller relation the red panda, so make sure to keep an eye out for them!
You can also use this opportunity to learn all about pandas by going to the Giant Panda Museum which is the only museum in the world which is completely dedicated to the giant panda.
Getting there: You need to get the metro to Dong Wu Yuan Station and then take bus line 102 to Xiongmao Jikong Zhongxin.
Dujiangyan Panda Base
This is Chengdu’s newest panda base, only being established in 2014. If you want to avoid the crowds at Chengdu Panda Base and have a bit more time on your hands for travelling then we’d recommend you make the journey here.
There are currently over 30 giant pandas and 5 red pandas living at the base. It is located about 90 minutes from Chengdu and thanks to its 2000 year old irrigation system it is actually a UNESCO world heritage site.
But by far the best thing about the base is it’s currently the only place where you can become a Panda Volunteer! The volunteer program is typically for one day and includes feeding the pandas, cleaning their enclosures, learning about pandas and many more great activities. The price is about 700 CNY.
If you want to stay an extra day in this area you should definitely check out the nearby Mount Qingcheng which is one of China’s “Four Holy Mountains”.
Getting there: You’ll need to take a high speed train from Chengdu Railway Station and get off at Mt. Qingcheng Railway Station.
Woolong Panda Base
If you want to see pandas in their most natural environment then this is definitely the base for you. The Woolong Panda Base is located in the Woolong National Nature Reserve which is often referred to as “Panda Kingdom”.
It is the largest breeding centre for pandas in the world.
The original base in Woolong was called Hetaoping but was unfortunately destroyed by the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, forcing their pandas to be relocated to other bases. But in 2016 a new base called Shenshuping was opened and is now home to more than 30 pandas.
Quick fact: About 60% of the entire world’s wild pandas live in Woolong National Nature Reserve
While getting to see some adorable pandas you will also get the chance to take in the stunning mountain scenery and bamboo groves. It takes about two hours to get to to Woolong Panda Base so you’ll need to set aside at least 1 to 2 days for the trip.
The base also offer the unique opportunity to go trekking in the Panda Wild Training Area where you learn all about the natural habitat of the giant panda and panda conservation.
Getting there: You need to get to Chadianzi Coach Station in Chengdu and then get a bus to Woolong Town.
Bifengxia Panda Base
The Bifengxia Panda Base (碧峰峡大熊猫基地 Bì fēng xiá dà xióngmāo jīdì) has over 20 giant pandas and focuses on trying to create the most natural environment for the pandas.
While visiting this base you will see how they simulate a wild environment to train the pandas how to survive on their own in the wild. The base has a forest, several waterfalls and other beautiful scenery so is a great place for you see pandas in the closest place to their natural habitat.
You can expect to see lots of panda babies at this base because it has one of the China’s top breeding programs
This is the base where many of the pandas from the Woolong Base were moved to after the Wenchuan earthquake. They were then moved back after the base reopened.
Getting there: You can get a bus from Xinnanmen Bus Station in Chengdu to Ya’an Tourism Bus Station, the journey takes about two hours, you then need to take a minibus to the base, which takes about 25 minutes.
Bonus Fact Panda Diplomacy
Yes, the idea does sound a little crazy but in actual fact the Chinese government have been using pandas as political tools since the 1950s, gifting pandas to countries to help cement ties. One of the most famous instances is the two pandas Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing who were gifted to the USA after President Richard Nixon’s historical visit to China in 1972.
Now, things are going to sound even stranger, rather than gifting pandas in recent years China has instead been renting pandas out to countries.
These panda loans normally last 10-15 years and can include a whopping $1,000,000 per year!