Pandas are a part of everyday life in Chengdu, from the constant shops full of panda merchandise to the panda theme metro line 3, they simply can’t be avoided.
Although some outsiders may visualise pandas roaming the streets and munching on wild bamboo in the parks, anyone who has been to Chengdu will know this is not the case. and despite China being the home of the Pandas, they are an endangered species and you won’t find one unless you know where to look.
Sichuan is the home province of the pandas and ,although they can be seen in various zoos around china and the world, Sichuan is the best place to see them simply because it is their home and most of them live here!
Where to see them?
1. Chengdu Zoo
Going to Chengdu Zoo is the cheapest way to see a panda, it costs 20RMB for an adult ticket and 10RMB for a child or student ticket. It is a cost affective way if your primary goal is simply to see a panda, with the added benefits of seeing all the other animals as well.
However I do not really recommend Chengdu zoo as in general all the animals are poorly looked after, have limited space and tourists inhumanly throw food at the animals. On top of this half the zoo seems to be taken up with an amusement park, which in my opinion could be better used to give more space to the animals.
2. Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
The research base is located 10km (6mi) from central Chengdu and costs 58RMB for entrance (half price for children and students). It is the best place in the world to see pandas. If you want the full panda experience this is the place for you.
It is a little more expensive than the zoo but well worth the money, It has numerous enclosures and is dedicated to the research and breeding of pandas so often has cute little ones as well as the big lazy ones. It is best to go early but personally I have found the pandas aren’t usually as sleepy in the afternoon as some people say. I have had a lovely afternoon watching the pandas after not being about to get up as early as I hoped.
The other great thing about the research base is that it has a very interesting museum about the history and biology of the pandas which is well worth a visit. It also has an enclosure for the red pandas (aka firefoxes) which is not as good as the giant panda enclosures but worth a quick visit if you have time.