Day 1- Arrive at Chengdu airport

 

You will be met by your guide and driver and transferred to the Bifengxia Reserve, arguably the best place to see pandas in the natural scenery they inhabit. The drive is approximately three hours, so feel free to initiate an informal Mandarin lesson with your English speaking guide, who grew up and lives in Chengdu.


Authentic Sichuan dinner in Bifengxia, and overnight at a hotel right at the Reserve.

Note that the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries you will be visiting are now on the World Heritage List.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For your stay in Chengdu you have two hotel choices:


#1 The Buddha Zen Hotel is a local hotel that is consistently ranked at the top of TripAdvisor reviews and where I chose to stay. For wondering around in "real" Chengdu this is it, you are in the old traditionally buddhist neighborhood. The hotel itself reminds me of a W Hotel- new and stylish, where the cool kids would hang out. Well decorated rooms, modern bathrooms, a spa in the hotel open until midnight. Free wireless.

 

#2 The Crowne Plaza Hotel is a well done, modern western chain hotel in a central, busy location. This option will obviously provide a less unique, less Chinese experience. However more English will be spoken in this hotel and neighborhood, and it is right in the middle of a busy shopping and restaurant area. This is where Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel stayed for her visit to Chengdu.

 

Pricing

 

· One person $1400

· Two people sharing one room $1000 per person

· Stay at Crowne Plaza instead of Buddha Zen is an extra $150 per room total.

· Pricing is approximate. Please contact me with dates, number of people and rooms and I will be able to confirm a price within a few days.

· Note this itinerary can be customized. For instance I have done this trip in three days instead of four, but it was pretty hectic.

 

Included:

· Four nights hotel.

· Four breakfasts (at hotel), three lunches, two dinners- all at local standard restaurants.

· Admission to Bifengxia Reserve, Chengdu Research Base, Sechuan Opera, Leshan Buddha, and river boat ride.

· Bifengxia Reserve volunteer fees and work clothes.

· Chengdu Research Base-employed English speaking guide.

· English speaking guide, modern private car and local driver.

Not included:

· Flights to and from Chengdu.

· Price of optional panda interactions.

· Alcoholic beverages.

· Travel or health insurance.

· Any gratuities for guide and driver.

How to get to Chengdu:

Chengdu airport is one of the main air hubs in China, ranked 5th in passenger volume. It has flights to most major cities in China and some international destinations including Amsterdam, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Osaka, Phnom Penh, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

 

Other notes:

· Be sure to carry a rain jacket and umbrella on you, and dress in layers. Bifengxia will be cooler than Chengdu, Leshan will be warmer.

· Sichuan food is spicy- if you are sensitive to this be sure to let your guide know.

Day 2

Walk over to the Reserve, where you will sign in, be issued work clothes, and spend the day volunteering with the pandas. This is certainly an experience most people will never have the chance to get! Tasks are varied, such as moving bamboo, cleaning the panda area, etc. There will be more than one opportunity to assist with feedings, and plenty of time to take photos of the pandas and view the rest of the Reserve, to include a nursery area. Lunch at the park is included. Your guide is available to assist with taking photographs.

At the end of the day you will be transferred to your hotel at Chengdu. Dinner and the evening is on your own.
Chengdu is the capital of the Sichuan Province, and while it has the reputation as a very "laid-back" city that emphasizes culture and relaxation, it is actually home to more than 9 million people.

Day 3

 

Spend the morning (when the pandas are most active) and as much time as you like at the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base, the largest facility of its kind in the world. They are much more active here than anywhere else I have seen them (see the video to the right).  Also included is a tour of the Base with an English speaking guide employed by the Base to take full advantage of this once in a lifetime (maybe) visit!

The Giant Panda is an endangered bear found only in China, some estimating that less than 2000 remain.  On this panda focused excursion, not only will you be able to see over 80 pandas at the world famous Chengdu Panda Research & Breeding Center and get a picture with one of them, but you will also go off the typical tourist path to the base at Bifengxia, where you will spend the day working behind the scenes as a volunteer and get interaction with pandas found no where else.  An experience all your friends and family will want to hear about.

 

Additionally you will get to learn the Sichuan province.  From its food, to its entertaining opera, or a 1200 year old Buddha, the memories from this unique journey will last a lifetime.

Detailed Itinerary

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Optional

For the cost of 1000 yuan (paid directly to the Reserve) you can have a five minute interaction session with several of the "teenage" pandas. They are free to move around you, and you are free to touch them. I thought this was an incredibly fun, unique experience that was priceless. Please note this option could be canceled if there is bad weather. Also while credit cards are accepted I encourage you to bring cash for this in case their credit card machine is down.

Optional

For the cost of 1000 yuan (paid directly to the Reserve) you can have a five minute interaction session with several of the "teenage" pandas. They are free to move around you, and you are free to touch them. I thought this was an incredibly fun, unique experience that was priceless. Please note this option could be canceled if there is bad weather. Also while credit cards are accepted I encourage you to bring cash for this in case their credit card machine is down.

There is also the option to do an interaction with a red panda, itself considered a vulnerable species.

With the remaining time in the day your regular guide can show you the various sites of the city of Chengdu.
In the evening your guide will take you to a local noodle house to eat as the locals do and then see the world famous Sichuan Opera– which includes acrobatics, shadow puppets, and face changing.

Day 4

Eat a big breakfast, as you may be having a late lunch. Drive approximately two hours and explore the Leshan Buddha, then take a boat trip down the river to view this gigantic masterpiece from the water. This area is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The buddha itself is 233 feet tall and was completed in 803 A.D.



Then transfer back to Chengdu where you will take a cooking class on the local Sichuan cuisine, the most known Chinese food style within China. You are essentially making your own lunch!

 

Dinner and the evening is on your own, or you can even fly out today.

Day 5

Transfer from hotel to airport.

Pandas in Chengdu

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