Panda haven in China - Chengdu Panda Research Center

Published on 9 June 2023 at 23:11

The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, or the Terracotta Army - China is a great destination for travelers with its blend of rich history, diverse landscapes and vibrant culture. When I was planning my trip to the "Middle Kingdom", I also longed to explore the country's rich biodiversity. China is famously known for its beloved symbol, the giant panda. And no better place to see pandas of all ages and sizes than the Panda Research Center in Chengdu!

While planning this trip, I had come to realize that visiting giant pandas in their natural habitat would be an incredibly challenging endeavor. These bears are critically endangered and the remaining 2,000 pandas live in remote areas, making an expedition time-consuming and costly. Consequently, we made the decision to visit the renowned Panda Research Center in Chengdu—an institution that serves as a world-class research facility but also education and conservation center .

Where is it?

Chengdu is the capital of the Chinese province Sichuan, located in South-West China. This city with more than 20 million inhabitants is a fast-growing modern city. The Chengdu Panda Research Center is one of the most popular attractions in Chengdu, where visitors can observe and learn about pandas in a natural habitat-like setting. Chengdu is captivating city that has something to offer for everyone. Bustling shopping districts, skyscrapers, ancient temples and monasteries and  a vivid food scene make Chengdu a great destination in China. Nature lovers can find beautiful attractions nearby like Mount Emei or the Jiuzhaigou Valley.

How to get there

Chengdu is well-connected with other major Asian cities via flight. The research base is just 10 km (6 miles) away from downtown. To get there, take the super modern metro line 3 until Panda Avenue. From there, a shuttle bus will take you to the park. A taxi from the city center is another option.


Great pandas, from cubs to adults in natural enclosures. Panda nursery with the unique opportunity to see baby pandas. Red pandas. Beautiful park with lakes and free-roaming birds. Panda museum.

The experience:

The panda research center is basically a huge panda-zoo. While this is not the wild, nowhere else one can see this many pandas at once. The pandas are housed in expansive, natural enclosures designed to mimic their natural habitat, allowing them to climb and play freely. To ensure the well-being of the pandas, they are divided into age groups. The sub-adults and teenage pandas have their own designated area, while the adults and mother/cub enclosures are located deeper within the park. This setup allows visitors to observe pandas at different stages of life.

We found the pandas mostly doing their two favourite things:  sleeping and eating. And they like to eat! It's quite a sight to see a large panda bear munching on some bamboo.

A highlight of the park is the panda nursery. At scheduled times, visitors can catch a glimpse of baby pandas through a glass window. However, it's important to note that the popularity of the nursery often leads to long queues. We waited a long time jut to get a few  precious minutes to marvel at these captivating black-and-white fur balls!

The park boasts breathtaking scenery, featuring bamboo-filled walking paths, serene lakes, and lush tree coverage. As you explore, you may even be fortunate enough to spot small free-roaming birds or elegant swans gracing the lakes. Additionally, the park is home to red pandas, smaller yet equally charming, which adds to the diversity of wildlife on display.

To enhance the overall experience, there is a restaurant where visitors can try the delicious but spicy Sichuan cuisine. Additionally, a small panda museum provides educational insights into these incredible creatures and the conservation efforts in place.

Taken together, the panda research center in Chengdu is an absolute must-visit.

Check the slide show to see the pandas of the Research base:

The red panda was believed to be the closest relative of the giant panda. New studies however revelead are closer related to raccoons and mustelids. While red pandas can be commonly found in zoos across Europe, the ones housed at Chengdu's research center belong to a different subspecies known as Chinese or Eastern red pandas (Ailurus styani). It's important to note that outside of China, you will encounter the Nepalese or Western red panda (Ailurus fulgens). The main distinctions between the two subspecies lie in fur color and the shape of their snouts. For me as a "species collector" a great sighting!



  • Giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
  • Chinese red panda (Ailurus styani)


  • Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus)
  • Chinese bulbul (Pycnonotus sinensis)
  • White-browed laughingthrush (Pterorhinus sannio)

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