The best places to see giant pandas are, of course, in Chengdu, hometown of Giant Pandas. But there are zoos in other China cities where you can see giant pandas if you can’t get to Chengdu. Below are the top places to see giant pandas in China.
1. Dujiangyan Panda Base – Best Panda Volunteer Program
China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda Dujiangyan Panda Base is a new panda center, established in 2014. It offers the same activities as Bifengxia Panda Base. However, it is quieter and sees less travelers than Bifengxia Panda Center, so volunteers have more time and chances to get close to the pandas.
Location: Dujiangyan Prefecture, 67 km (41 mi) or 1½ hours from Chengdu
Size: 10 pandas
Activities: panda viewing, holding pandas, and panda keeper program
Suitable for: those who want a less-crowded panda volunteer program
Time needed: 1 day
2. Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center – Most Popular
Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base is located in the northern suburbs of Chengdu City. It is fully equipped for giant panda breeding, with a baby panda house, several enclosures for adult pandas and cubs, health stations, a giant panda museum, and a laboratory. Thousands of bamboo plants are harvested there to feed the pandas.
The base aims to create an approximation of the panda’s wild living environment, and to train the pandas to adapt to wild living, and then releases them into the wild for the continuation and preservation of this charming and endangered species. It also offers volunteer programs so that participants can learn more about and look after the giant pandas.
Location: No.1375 Xiongmao Avenue the Outside Northern Third Ring Road, Chenghua District, Chengdu
Size: about 50 pandas
Activities: seeing pandas, watching panda breeding movies
Time needed: half a day
Best for: tourists who have limited time, and are only interested in seeing or holding pandas
3. Beijing Zoo – Easiest Access, But Most Crowded
Beijing Zoo is the largest zoo in China with the largest number of animal species and is one of the best zoos in the world. It was the first zoo to open in China. There is a panda house in the zoo, which is one of the most popular enclosures there.
For those who can make their trip to Chengdu, Beijing Zoo is a good alternative for seeing pandas. Be warned that the panda house in Beijing Zoo is always fully-packed. Our guide knows how to escape the crowds.
Location: No.137 Xizhimenwai Main Street, Xicheng District, Beijing
Activities: Seeing pandas only
Time needed: 2 hours
Best for: travelers who can’t make it to Chengdu
4. Ocean Park in Hong Kong
Ocean Park is a large ocean theme park and one of several large amusement parks in Hong Kong. You can see hundreds of kinds of marine fishes. There are four giant pandas in Ocean Park: An An, Jia Jia (the world’s oldest living panda, who will be 36 on August 10th 2014), Le Le and Ying Ying. Le Le and Ying Ying are presents from China’s central government to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland.
Location: 180 Wong Chuk Hang, Nam Long Shan, Southern District, Hong Kong
5. Bifengxia Giant Panda Base – the Largest Giant Panda Base
Bifengxia Panda Base is the largest giant panda base in the world. It offers the best giant panda volunteer programs, which allow close contact with the giant pandas.
Location: Bifengxia, Yucheng District, Ya’an Prefecture, Chengdu
Size: about 20 pandas
Activities: seeing pandas, and panda keeper programs
Best for: people who want to take part in the volunteer program (taking care of pandas)
Time needed: 2 days