China is home to a fantastic array of wildlife. It’s the base for several primate species (such as gibbons, macaques, leaf monkeys, grey langurs, snub-nosed monkeys, and lorises), not to mention the stomping ground for a number of rare and endangered animals.
The elusive white-flag dolphin, South China tiger, crested ibis, and Chinese alligator live in China. One of the country’s most famous wild inhabitants is the giant panda.
Giant pandas are one of the rarest species on the planet. At last count, there were just 1,864 giant pandas in the wild, with their very particular habitat requirements and insatiable appetite for bamboo seeing them live in small, remote communities across south-west and central China.
A trip to China wouldn’t be complete without seeing a giant panda, and a visit to Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Centre is the perfect place to do just that.
Where is Chengdu Panda Reserve?
The Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Centre, or Chengdu Panda Reserve, is based on the outskirts of the city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province. Situated at the heart of western China, Chengdu is one of the best places to see pandas. Two other renowned reserves – namely Dujiangyan Panda Base and Wolong Panda Centre – are also based just a stone’s throw away from the city.
The Chengdu Panda Reserve is the most popular and is easily accessible by car, metro or bus. The journey takes between 40 minutes and 1 hour from Downtown Chengdu depending on your chosen mode of transport.
What can I expect?
As a breeding centre, you can expect to see plenty of adorable baby pandas. Here TripSavvy reveals more about the reserve’s mission:
“Established in 1987 and opened to the public in 1995, the base aims to increase the population of giant pandas and eventually release some of the animals back into the wild.
However you feel about seeing animals in captivity, especially in a country not known for their excellent treatment of animals, the people at the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base are making it their mission to increase the world’s panda population and further people’s understanding of this amazing creature.”
Those visiting in August or September will witness a baby boom, whilst those visiting at other times of the year won’t be disappointed either. Despite specialising in breeding and the care of baby pandas, the centre is home to approximately 50 pandas.
All year round, and despite the panda’s laid-back nature, the reserve is a hive of activity with the kindergarten the perfect place to see young pandas at their most active.
You can also view pandas up close, something you can’t do in the wild due to the remoteness of their habitat and their elusiveness. Their pandas live in large exhibits that are as close to their natural habitat as possible.
The centre is home to the world’s only Giant Panda Museum, where you can learn more about the beautiful animal, its habitat, and its history. The Giant Panda Post Office is also based here meaning you can send a little slice of Chengdu to loved ones back home.
When should I visit?
The Chengdu Panda Reserve is open daily from 7.30am until 6pm. The best time to visit is early in the morning, with the centre’s feeding time a particular highlight.
It’s important to note that pandas sleep (a lot), and will spend most of the day snoozing after their morning feed. Pandas are more active in cooler weather. So on warmer days, head indoors to see them. Most visitors spend up to 4 hours exploring the centre and meeting its residents.
Is the reserve suitable for families?
Visiting Chengdu Panda Reserve is one of the best family-friendly activities in China. The reserve is suitable and fun for all ages. Even younger guests in prams can see the vast majority of the centre, although some areas have steps and rocks which may be more difficult to negotiate with a pram.