Sublime China's Ultimate Travel Guide to Watching Pandas in China

Sublime China’s Ultimate Travel Guide to Watching Pandas in China

Heading over to China soon? If so, watching panda bears in China should definitely be on your list. China is the best place in the world to do it because they are hogging all of these adorable, yet nearly extinct animals.

Because the population is threatened, the country has taken some pretty serious measures to keep these guys around. So, there are quite a few places around China that allow you to view the bears, and even interact with them.

Sure, you can view these animals at the zoo in your hometown, but the rehabilitation centers in China offer a much more intimate experience.

If you want to watch pandas in China, here is our ultimate guide.

Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center

Sublime China's Ultimate Travel Guide to Watching Pandas in China

Photo Source: The Cool Gadgets

Located only 6 miles from downtown Chengdu in western China, this panda sightseeing spot is the most popular in China.

While you can visit during any season, the breeding period is from late summer until mid autumn, so this may be the best time to view all of the action.

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This breeding center is easy to access and may have quite a few crowds. However, there are about 50 pandas here to see. You’ll be able to watch the pandas interact with each other in a habitat that was created to resemble their natural one.

Aside from viewing pandas, there is also a museum on site as well as a few galleries so that you can see photos, movies, and learn a bit more about these precious animals.

Dujianyan Panda Base

This panda base is unique as it’s the only disease prevention and panda care center in the entire world. It’s located only 34 miles from Chengdu, so you could probably visit both Dujianyan and the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center on your trip to China.

The base has over one hundred panda bears on site, so you will be likely to see quite a few while visiting. Guests can view the pandas not only with their eyes but also through specialty cameras and electronic devices that have been set up.

What makes this place especially worthwhile is their panda keeper program. It has to be set up in advance, but it allows guests to volunteer with the bears on a hands-on level.

Beijing Zoo

Sublime China's Ultimate Travel Guide to Watching Pandas in China

Photo Source: Hua

The panda house at the Beijing zoo is one of the best places to view pandas on the east coast of China. This panda house has quite the history, with the first giant panda entering the zoo in 1963.

In 1978, the Beijing zoo was the first place in the world to conduct the artificial insemination breeding of pandas with success. The panda house is made up of two sections, the Beijing Olympic Games Panda House and the Asian Games Panda House.

Since the bears were mascots for many of the games, these houses were built to remind people of this in the future.

Wolong Panda Center

This reserve used to be THE place to go in China to see pandas. Unfortunately, it was badly damaged during the earthquake of 2008. Located about 80 miles from Chengdu, this center used to house over 100 panda bears.

It was even put on the World UNESCO Heritage List and was the world renowned for being a place of great biodiversity.

After the earthquake, many of the pandas were moved to the Bifengxia Panda Reserve while efforts to rebuild took place.

However, in 2012, a new center was built, and pandas were slowly transferred over to their new home there.

Also referred to as the Shenshuping Panda Center, this destination now holds more than 70 pandas and is said to be a world leader in propagating the panda species. The pandas here are not kept in cages, so people can view them while walking or driving around the center.

This is also a great place to visit if you want to get a look at baby pandas, or even ‘adopt’ a panda by giving it a name and donating.

With more of a nature reserve feel to it, this center is popular for people who want to see pandas but also love the outdoors.

Bifengxia Panda Reserve


Located just an hour from Chengdu, this reserve is located on a gorge, giving stunning views of waterfalls, valleys, and vegetation. Taking in some panda bears after the earthquake damaged the Wolong reserve, this center has plenty of cute animals to view.

Guests visiting the reserve can split their time between the different areas such as the bamboo woods, breeding zone, research center, and the baby panda care zone.

Like many reserves, this place is absolutely brimming with natural scenery that nearly matches the cute faces of the panda bears.

Shanghai Zoo

Since most of China’s panda bears are located in the western area of the country, it can be difficult to see pandas while visiting the east. However, most of the large zoos, like the one in Shanghai, have panda houses that are ready for visitors.

While visiting the zoo, which is, in general, quite a lovely way to spend an afternoon, guests will have the chance to view some panda bears.

They are in a recreated habitat, and will usually be eating, sleeping or playing. Any time of year should be a good time to visit, but the late summer to early autumn is when they seem to be most active.

No matter where you go in China to view the giant pandas, always make sure to be respectful of them. Don’t bang on the glass or yell at them to get up and do something. Just enjoy them the way that they are.

The giant panda bear is a national treasure for China, so they deserve to be respected, but also to be enjoyed.

If you are planning to visit China, make sure to add some of these panda centers to your itinerary if you can. However, if you are interested in a more guided experience, there are plenty of panda tours that can provide that.

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Shannon Ullman

Hey! I'm a published American travel blogger and teacher. My travel writing has been featured on Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Matador Network and Thought Catalog. I spent over a year living and traveling around China while I taught English there. I have also visited dozens of other countries around the world.