The giant panda is the rarest and most fascinating member of the bear family. This peaceful animal is adored all over the world and is considered a national treasure in China. The giant panda is regularly sought after by tourists, and is often the main reason for their visit to China in the first place. However, with just 1,800 pandas left in the wild, time is running out to see them in their natural habitat.
Native to the bamboo forests of western China, the giant panda is a must-see for those visiting this incredible part of the world. With wild giant panda numbers getting the boost they need after years of decline recently – the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) upgraded their status from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’, now couldn’t be a better time to pay them a visit and show your support for panda conservation efforts.
In this blog post, we reveal the best places to see pandas in China so you can plan your nature-loving, bucket list trip to China to perfection.
Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Centre
Based on the outskirts of the city, the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Centre offers the chance to see pandas and find out more about the conservation work being done in China to protect the futures of these beautiful animals. One of the most easily accessible panda haunts, its convenient location is perfect for travellers who have limited time but want to see giant pandas of varying ages, as family travel blogger Mum on the Move details:
“While we would all love to visit pandas in the wild, there are less than 2,000 giant pandas in the wild in China today, spread between 26 nature reserves. And so for most people, the best opportunity to see the panda bears in China is to visit the Chengdu panda research center… Today this Chengdu panda base boasts the world’s largest captive panda population and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in China. Here visitors can wander along the bamboo-lined pathways that meander through the park, alongside roaming peacocks and visit some of the 146 resident pandas in their spacious enclosures.”
At Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Centre, there’s also a chance to see other endangered species including the giant panda’s forest dwelling cousin, the red panda.
Dujiangyan Panda Base
Those looking to get more “hands on” with the conservation of pandas should head to Dujiangyan Panda Base. Their panda volunteer program offers a day long, once in a lifetime experience that will be enjoyed by all nature lovers. Located 1.5 hours from Chengdu, the Dujiangyan Panda Base is well worth the journey – considering you’ll be charged with helping to clean, prepare food for and feed the base’s panda population of 20.
Wolong Panda Centre
Want to see pandas in their natural habitat? Try a visit to the Wolong Panda Centre. As the ultimate habitat experience, visitors get to trek through spectacular wilderness before meeting the centre’s pandas.
You’ll need 2 to 4 days to take on the journey to the Wolong Panda Centre, which is based 75 miles west of Chengdu. The Bifengxia Giant Panda Base is situated a little further away (93 miles from Chengdu), and is another habitat experience that’s difficult to beat. In exchange for a longer drive and a more expensive entry fee, you’ll be rewarded by fewer crowds.
Love nature? Then you’ll want to visit Guilin as part of your trip to China too.