How to Hold a Panda in Chengdu Panda Park, China
UPDATED 2020: 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. And being able to hold a panda in the Chengdu Panda park was one of the best experiences of my life. (EDIT 2020 – there is a new park where you can hold a Panda. It’s no longer possible at this park. All info below!). TLDR? You can book your trip to the NEW PARK here.
So, after 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 Chengdu panda!.
Where can I see the Chengdu Pandas?!
At The Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Centre.
The Chengdu Panda Park 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 8.30 am and you really want to be there when the park opens. The pandas are much more active in the early morning, so better to take a taxi.
Most hotel 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.
Visiting The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding & Holding A Panda
The park itself is much like a glorified (but ethical) 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.
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 increasing so hurry, hurry. That is on top of the 58 RMB to enter the park!
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 for 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.
Chengdu Panda FAQ
How much does it cost to hold a Panda in Chengdu?
It costs 58 RMB ($9) to enter the park, then an additional 2000 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.
EDIT: You can’t do this anymore in the Chengdu Panda park. But you can do it here!
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 for the Chengdu pandas?
I didn’t, not did anyone I know who has been since. Because the price 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 ease your worried mind:
IMPORTANT UPDATE ABOUT THE CHENGDU PANDA PARK:
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 downtown, and about a 1.5-hour drive from Chengdu city. You can e-mail the Dujiangyan panda base at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
ChengduMark01@gmail.com – Whatsapp: +86 15881139886
If you DONT WANT to hold a Chengdu 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.
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