China is home to potentially the most gorgeous creature in the world – the panda. So you are probably wondering where in China to go to see these adorable creatures? With less than 2000 Pandas left in the world, your only chance to visit Pandas in China is unfortunately in some form of zoo or research centre. The Chengdu Panda Research Centre, where we saw Pandas for the first time, is home to a large percentage of the world’s pandas as it currently houses over 100 Giant Pandas and over 70 Red Pandas. The Chengdu Panda Research Centre was our main reason for catching a 12 hour train from Zhangjiajie and we were very pleased that we made the effort!

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About the Chengdu Panda Research Centre

The Chengdu Panda Research Centre is a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas. The centre originally opened in 1987 to care for rescued wild pandas and has since gone from strength to strength. Today, the centre is not only one of the most popular tourist attractions in China but assists with the breeding and conservation of pandas with a goal of eventually introducing new pandas into wild populations. In the 165-acre research centre you are able to see pandas from the nursery right through to adulthood. While we are not normally fans of zoos, we felt that the pandas at the Chengdu Panda Research Centre were treated and cared for very well with large, clean enclosures and plenty of food.

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Seeing pandas in person was such an amazing experience and well worth the long journey to get there! They are truly the most adorable creatures imaginable. Before visiting, I thought that pandas would have the sedentary state of a koala with the personality of a grizzly. Boy, was I wrong. The pandas were so playful – playing with balls, wrestling each other and climbing on obstacles in their enclosures. They also appeared to have a very docile personality. To our surprise, you can even take a picture hugging a panda. However, unfortunately, pandas do not give out free hugs and having your picture taken with one of these adorable animals will set you back around $300 USD.

How to get around the Chengdu Panda Research Centre?

Despite being a very large 165-acre facility, it is very easy to get around the Chengdu Panda Research Centre by foot. The Chengdu Panda Research Centre is well signed and you are able to pick up a map for free at the information centre. However, do note, it is around a 40 minute walk from the entrance of the park to the last panda enclosures where the pandas are released to play and eat in the mornings. In summer, it is essential to get to the research centre as early as possible (ideally at 7.30am when the centre opens) to have a chance to see the pandas playing outdoors. The mornings is also when the pandas are most active and there are less crowds. You will get the best photos of the pandas at this time. The pandas are brought indoors in summer from around 9.00am. You can only see them behind glass after this time. If you are running late or just don’t feel like walking the length of the park in the hot summer sun, there is a tourist bus which takes you from one end of the park to the other for only 10 CNY. However, there are often long lines for the buses.

Top tip: Get a free map from the tourist information centre when you first enter the park. While the park is well signed in English, a map really helps you to zip around the park fast and cover all the main attractions!

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How much time do I need to allocate to visiting the park?

You could literally spend all day watching these cute and cuddly creatures however, just to see all the attractions adequately with enough viewing time at each, allocate at least half a day (4 hours) to visiting the park.

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How to get to the Chengdu Panda Research Centre & where to stay in Chengdu? 

We stayed at Chengdu, the Lazybones Hostel Templeside Poshpacker. Despite it being called a hostel, it was more like a hotel as it was very clean and comfortable with modern furnishings. We also loved the beautifully decorated café area with lots of seating and two gorgeous cats. The hostel was also very affordable as we only paid $25 USD a night. It is truly deserving of its 9.2 review score on booking.com. The best bit was that it provided a great base for visiting the Chengdu Panda Research Centre. You can get a taxi for around 50 CNY from the hostel however, it is very simple to get the public bus, which costs only 4 CNY per person.

To get to Chengdu Panda Research Centre by bus from the Lazybones Hostel Templeside Poshpacker, first walk to North Street and then turn left, away from the river. Cross the road at the first set of lights you come to (about 50m away). From here, catch the #1 bus until the end of the line. It costs 2 CNY and takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t worry about missing your stop – the driver makes everyone get out at the end. From there, walk into the outdoor bus depot and look for the #87 bus in the row of buses. The #87 stops right in front of the Panda Research Centre (the stop is announced in English). The second half of the journey takes about 30 minutes depending on traffic. On the way back simply do the reverse.

To check out other accommodation options available in Chengdu during your dates click here.

What you need to know about visiting the Chengdu Panda Research Centre?

  • Address: 1375 Xiongmao Avenue, Chengdu, Southwest China, China
  • Hours: Daily 7:30am-6pm
  • Admission: CNY 58

Hope this post was helping in planning your trip to the Chengdu Panda Research Centre. If you love Pandas as much as we do, please let us know in the comments below!

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