Okay, you have starting planning your China vacation. Since there are so many fantastic destinations to check out, how are you going to whittle them all down and choose which ones you will visit with the limited amount of time that you have? China is soaked in history to be sure, but I suggest throwing in something a little different to give your China holiday some variety. How about a day spent with China’s most iconic animal: the Giant panda bear? It would be a travesty go to China without getting a glimpse of this rare and phenomenal creature. So if you are visiting China this year on vacation, one place I would recommend is the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
Tour of China: The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
- THE GROUNDS
The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding is a man-manicured paradise 10 kilometers north of Chengdu that is home to over 80 Giant pandas and covers an area of 165 acres. Since there are less than 2,000 pandas left in the world, the fact that over 80 are housed here is incredible! The breeding center grounds have massive bamboo forests, lakes, rivers, caves, dens and various “panda playgrounds.” It is a beautiful destination to explore during your tour of China.
- THE PANDAS
While the grounds are extensive, panda sightings are not rare at all. These languid black and white teddy bears can be seen all over. You will be able to get some great shots of pandas playing, shamelessly gorging themselves on bamboo, sleeping, and nursing. (Did you know that pandas can easily eat more than 14 kg of bamboo in a single day?) Since this is a breeding center after all, there are also nursery rooms where you can see panda cubs.
- ADDITIONAL FACILITIES
In addition to the nursery rooms and habitat areas, there is also a small panda museum you can visit on your China holiday, but it only takes about 15 or so minutes to explore. There is also a coffee shop where you can grab some refreshments. All in all, if you are exploring the panda center on foot, plan for about 3 hours to visit all the different areas. To give yourself plenty of time for pictures and panda-watching, I would say rope off between 3-5 hours for your whole excursion to the breeding center. There are buses available for an extra
fee though if you do not feel up to that much walking.
TIPS FOR YOUR VISIT
If you decide to add a trip to see pandas to your China vacation itinerary, here are a few tips for you:
- Go early in the day! The center opens at 7:30am and by 10:00am,
the pandas are more lethargic. You are more likely to see them playing and active in the early morning hours.
- Take advantage of the English-speaking guides. The center employs several.
- Bring mosquito repellent. Some days are worse than others for mosquitoes, but better safe than sorry.
VISITNG CHINA: YOUR TRIP
Whether you find a tour of China that includes a trip to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding or you decide to include it in your own custom tour of China, here is some basic information about the center that will likely come in handy while you are planning. Regarding prices, tickets to get into the center are roughly RMB 58 per person (which is less than $10). Also, hours are from 7:30am-6:00pm. The center is open year-round, so no need to worry about visiting in any particular season. (Pandas are one of the few bears that do not hibernate during the winter.) Otherwise, just bring some extra cash for refreshments and possibly the buses inside the center if you would like to tour the center by bus instead of on foot. (You may have heard that in the past, it was possible to hold and get your picture taken with a baby panda here for an extra fee. Too much contact with people was actually making the baby pandas sick, so this is no longer an option.)
So consider putting the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in your itinerary when you go to China. You will get to see young pandas attempting to climb trees, adults gloriously lying in piles of bamboo sporting their “bamboo bellies,” youngsters wrestling, and everyone climbing around on the panda playgrounds. Getting a chance to see these rare, cuddly bears will certainly be a highlight of your China holiday.
Photos from sources: freephotoz.net, volvochinaopen.com, plu.edu, radios-ua.livejournal.com, fonstola.ru, theplaidzebra.com