Let’s be honest, anyone who is coming to Chengdu must have the pandas at the top of their list. And quite rightly so as this is hands down one of my favourite days out in China.
The sanctuary is relatively easy to get to, you need to make your way to the bus station next to the Chengdu Zoo, either by bus or by metro (the line 3 drops you straight outside) then jump on either the 198, 198A or 87 bus from there. It takes around 15 minutes on the bus from the zoo station. The park is very affordable; 57¥ for an adult ticket, and students get in half price. China happily accepted a student card from England for a discount at most tourist attractions, which saved us a massive amount over the month we were there.
As we entered the park we saw the museum on our left, which, as a pair of grown ups, we obviously walked straight past and headed to the panda enclosures! The animals are separated into age ranges with the adults, sub adults and cubs all being kept separate. The male and female pandas separated also.
Obviously, the main attraction is the panda kindergarten where we saw 6 baby pandas wrestling and play fighting. Looking as cute and adorable as you would imagine. The panda kindergarten was however extremely busy and difficult to get a good view never mind a decent photo.
On the other hand, if you head to a not so busy enclosure; in our case the living quarters of the 30-year-old male, you may just get the chance to get up close and personal. We were literally the only visitors at this enclosure which meant we were lucky enough to witness the panda come right out and sit within meters of us. Casually feasting on a mountain of bamboo. And when I say casual I mean literally so relaxed he could have quite well have been asleep. We spent around 40 minutes watching the bear go about his morning in complete bliss.
We later read in the museum that pandas spend 16 out of 24 hours eating, and the majority of what’s left over they are asleep. Now that sounds like the life, doesn’t it?! The panda sanctuary was everything I expected and more. Of course, it’s a massively touristy place and if you don’t get there early you will inevitably hit the crowds, but even so its still 100% worth the trip out.