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People are often surprised when I tell them, without doubt, that China is one of my top five countries to visit in the world, it offers so so much. And if you doubted me, all I have to say is panda, pandas, PANDAS….

So, fter telling you guys about how awesome Chengdu is, and the great trips you can take from here to Leshan with the biggest Buddha in the world and Jiuzhaigou and its UNESCO National park, it’s time to shed a little more light on Chengdu’s biggest attraction – the giant panda.

Holding a panda in China Chengdu
The sexy blue coat, sneakers and gloves are compulsory, not an Irish fashion statement!

The Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Centre is 18km outside of the city of Chengdu, you can take a bus from the city (about 2 Kwai/$0.30) and it takes about 45 minutes BUT they don’t really run until 8.30am and you really wanna be there when the park opens, the pandas are much more active in the early morning.

Most hostels run tours to the park for around 100 Kwai ($15) including entrance tickets and transport there and back (although not including the fee for holding a panda). The second time I’ve visited the Panda Sanctuary with my mum , we took a taxi for less than $5 each way, super easy.

The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

The park itself is much like a glorified Panda zoo, although the pandas are really well looked after, they have so much space to be free but you still have the feeling that you’re walking around a zoo with the tailored routes and paths, the enclosures etc.

Panda park in Chengdu

However, if you’re willing to part with your cash (like me) the real highlight lies at the end of your walk around, you get the opportunity to HOLD and HUG a baby panda!! The downside is that the cost of doing this is increasing a lot every year, since 2015 (UPDATED), the fee has increased to 2000 RMB ($307 USD) for about 2 minutes with the panda – ouch! And it’s rumoured to be incressing so hurry, hurry. That’s on top of the 58 RMB to enter the park!

pandas in chengdu

Was it worth it? For me, absolutely. It’s a life long dream of mine to hold a panda and I loved every second of it, all 120 of them. In 2012 it was $200, which was a HUGE chunk of money for me then, but I still paid it, and still loved it. You can’t put a price on awesome travel experiences and I’d recommend this to everyone! I had planned not to do it, due to the sheer expense, but I cracked when I saw how cute they were and I’m delighted I did. DO IT.

red pandas in china

 

FAQ

How much does it cost to hold a Panda in Chengdu?

It cost’s 58 RMB ($9) to enter the park, then an additional2000 RMB ($307 USD) to hold the panda. And there are no ATMs at the park, so bring local cash!! You can also do a Chengdu tour or a Giant Panda Tour, which takes into consideration all costs.

 

How long do you hold the panda for at the Chengdu panda park?

A lightning fast 2 minutes maximum. You can have your friends or family video and take photos will you do it, so don’t worry about that.

Do you need to make a reservation? 

I didn’t, not did anyone I know who has been since. Because the prize is so crazy, there aren’t long lines to do it. If you’re worried, and you’re only in Chengdu one day, get your hotel or hostel to call the centre, but for the record, I didn’t book anything. I had planned not to part with the cash, but once you seem them you just end up screaming ‘Shut up and take my money’

Be aware though you can only hold the pandas twice a day – at 10:30 am or 2:30 pm. And you have to book it thirty minutes in advance so around10am or 2 pm. Only twenty people can do it per session, so the best bet is be the first people in the park around 8:30 am, and book immediately. I was there in winter though, so there was no problem, but if it’s a Chinese holiday for example? Run, run run.

How do you get to the Chengdu Panda park?

Getting a bus is easy (just ask around) and costs less than $1USD but most hostels run tours that take you there for around $15 including entrance tickets. Or a taxi is less than thirty minutes, and costs around $5 each way, all the taxi drivers know where it is.

Here’s a google map to easy your worried mind…

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

Chengdu panda holding is suspended BUT good news, it’s still possible nearby at another base – the Dujiangyan Panda Base, although the time has been cut to 30 seconds, and it all must be booked in advance, ideally two weeks in advance.

You can pay around $110 to volunteer for the day (cleaning cages etc). Then the same additional fee as before to hold the panda. Dujiangyan Panda base is 2 km away from Qingcheng mountain,   about 10 minutes drive from Dujiangyan down town, and about a 1.5 hour drive from Chengdu city. You can e-mail the Dujiangyan panda base at pandaeducatecenter@163.com.

Here is the new map you need, for the only centre in the world that you can now hold pandas, take a bus/taxi to Dujiangyan City.

NOTE: You need a letter from your doctor saying you’re fit and healthy too. This is not a professional tourism spot like Chengdu, so there are a few hoops to jump through.

If you want someone to organise it for you try these guys:

bruce.chen@scexpeditions.com

ChengduMark01@gmail.com – Whatsapp: +86 15881139886

info@absolutepanda.com

If you DONT WANT to hold a panda, then still go to the Chengdu Base, it’s much more professional, more pandas etc. But if you wanna hold a panda, this is your spot.

holding-a-panda-in-china
Tick it off the bucket list 😛
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45 thoughts on “How to Hold a Panda in Chengdu, China

  1. I’m glad that it is suspended! It is completely unethical that they used to let people do this. Don’t you get that these animals are supposed to have conservation value?! No animal that is supposed to go to the wild at some point should be interacting with humans. PLUS those babies should be with their mothers not being held by tons of tourists

  2. My daughter will turn 15 when we are in ChengDu this summer….holding a panda is her dream! thanks for the info – I have emailed all three guys you listed who could help set this up. THANK YOU!!!!

    1. Hi, i was wondering if you were successful in contacting these people? I turn 18 in November and would love to be able to hold a panda!
      Thank you and all the best 🙂

  3. You totally blew my mind. I cant even explain the excitement i have right now. Knowing that my biggest dream can come true. I think ill cry the whole 2min and for days after that. Wow

  4. Do they take professional pics there? If so how much are they? I’m going in Oct but everytime I get a friend to take my picture something happens. If I have only 2 minutes I want to get a good picture for sure.

    1. Was at Panda Research yesterday (24 April 2015) and apparently since early January posing with baby pandas has been suspended due to two dying of canine (?) distemper. If and when the suspension is lifted you have to make an appointment, by email or phone, to ‘book’ your session. Hope it’s OK for you in October.

  5. can someone tell me where I can sign up? I will be going to Hong Kong in 2 wks and will be stopping by the panda base as well with a tour guide. I would like to make reservations to hold the panda. I don’t want to take the chance of going and not be able to hold one. any suggestions of how I can get a spot?? Thanks!

  6. Hey I was wondering, once you pay and you are holdin the panda, you are free to take as many photos as you want? like, if you are there with a friend, they are free to take as much photos as they want?

    1. As far as showing up and being able to hold a baby panda is risky. If you want to make sure you get that opportunity, you will need to make a reservation. They take 20 people a day. Only those 20 are aloud inside the area, but if you are with friends who didn’t get a spot, there are monitors in another room to watch the action. The cost of securing that you hold a panda is 2000 RMB or $350 USD.
      I held the baby panda March 2013. You can gamble on holding one foe less money, but after 9000 miles, I wasn’t willing to chance it. Got the last spot for the reservation and they need to be done at least 24 hours in advance!!

        1. i just turned up buddy, i planned not to part with the cash, but when you see how cute they are, it’s hard to say no :S

  7. Last year, I visited Chengdu and Bifengxia for 5 days. I didn’t go to Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center instead of Bifengxia Panda Base as a volunteer. My guide Tom at China Discovery Tours told us it would be a “Once in a lifetime experience” and it certainly lived up to its billing. Normally you would be straining to get a view of these wonderful animals but here we were within touching distance. Yes, it was a fabulous trip.

  8. Great post, part of my bucket list as well! Do they have someone help take pictures for you for those 2 minutes? I would love to have as many Kodak moments as possible!

  9. As I’m off to live in Hong Kong for a year come August I thought I’d take this rainy Sunday afternoon to read up on all your China articles. This is absaloutely something I have to do! Yes it’s expensive .. but I’d have held a fricking panda!

  10. Looking into this more as, like so many others here, this is a life-long dream of mine! My question is, how much English should one learn before traveling here? It doesn’t sound like they’d speak a lot of English, which is fine with me, I just want to be prepared!

  11. Researching a panda trip and came across your website. It is literally a life long dream of mine to do this. Please tell me I am not crazy to fly halfway around the world to a hold a panda for 2 minutes? Did you see any information about full or 2 days volunteering opportunities while you were there? I have heard they exist.

  12. Wow, this is amazing! If only I had the money to travel like that 🙁 $1 is approximately 4PLN (our currency in Poland) and the average salary is about 3,5kPLN per month, so with the living costs pretty high, you have to be like…a doctor or a politician to be able to afford trips like these ;/ Unless you save up for many years…I’ll tell you something though, if I ever went to China and physically had that 800PLN, for two minutes, I’d do it 😛 Even if I had to hitchike all the way back to Poland for the lack of return money. God, this makes me want to rob a bank or something 😛

  13. Thank you for posting this! Holding one of these cuddly creatures is definitely on my to do list and I now know a more convenient and legal way to do so.

  14. I never understood the fuss made over the pandas until I saw them in person at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park. The pandas really are super adorable.

    But as animals, unless the humans help them out they will surely go extinct. Can’t believe they need to eat all day just to stay alive and only mate once a year and they love to live alone.

    1. i know, it’s so sad :S but they have hundreds of them in CHengdu, and it’s increasing all the time – i think they’re gonna make it 🙂

  15. Hey, in June i am going on honeymoon to China and the future wife is desperate to hold a Panda, i thought this was crazy until i agreed to Google it and found you!!

    As it is our honeymoon the cash isnt really a problem but i don’t want to miss where you hold the pandas or she will literally kill me!! You say at the end of your day you held the panda, does that mean it is near the exit? or is it widely signposted? or do i need to find a local guide to bribe?

    Any help would be great!

    1. hey david,

      when u go to the panda sanctuary in Chengdu, pay the small entrance fee. Then in the centre of the reserve you can hold the panda. If you book a tour through your hotel they guide will bring u there too. Also mate, check out juizhaigou too – it’s close to chengdu (relatively!) and it’s beautiful!

  16. Thanks for the tip about when to go and the pricing info. I’m going to Chengdu in May so I Googled ‘holding a panda in Chengdu’, and this is one of the first entries. I’m so excited to do this! My mom thinks I’m crazy to want to shell out that much money, but it’s totally going to be worth it. How many people can say they’ve held a panda? I thought it was neat when I held a koala in Australia, but this is going to be so much better. Can’t wait!

    1. hey cindy, wow – i’m glad you found my site 🙂 yeah, this was one of the coolest things i’ve ever done. I figured $200 is a lot, but i’d rather have a lasting memory like this than some boozey weekend somewhere, right? And it was definitely the right decision! Good luck and keep me posted if you do it or not!

      1. Hi Johnny, love your blog! Can’t believe all the amazing places you’ve been! This will be my first trip to China – very excited! It’s only for 2 1/2 weeks. Going to Chengdu, Beijing and Xi’an:) I will definitely let you know when I hold the panda. It will be amazing!

          1. I held the panda, and it was amazing! Such a thrilling experience! And I got to hold it for more than two minutes:) I got to hold two because the first one would not cooperate. He wouldn’t eat any of the treats and kept trying to get away. I have a great picture where he’s rolling around on his back on the bench. Funny! The second panda sat in my lap so I got to snuggle with it and got some great pictures. I’m so glad I did it. Worth every penny!

  17. I would definetly do this no matter what (even if the price tag is hefty). Do you know if there are other places where you can have a similar experience for less money? All the pictures are so cute. So cool they also have red pandas.

    1. it is hefty! lol but i’d recommend it for sure. There’s no other place in the world you can do it as far as i know, this is our only chance!

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