Our Day With the Pandas: Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base

Friends, thank you all so much for your comments and messages sharing in our family’s adoption excitement! I love sharing our story with you, and today I want to tell you about one of our favorite destinations during our China trip. “Scout” is from Chengdu, in the Sichuan province, which is well known for two major things: spicy food and pandas!

Honestly, of the three cities we visited during our two week adventure, Chengdu was my favorite. To me, it felt very reminiscent of Manhattan. It’s a big, busy city, but there are also beautiful, quiet parks and plenty of things to see and do. We had a phenomenal hotel room at the Fraser Suites, and we were right across the street from the giant building you see in the photo above, which contained a Starbucks and many different stores including a Carrefour that sells food, household items, clothing, and more.

We were in Chengdu from Monday through Thursday; Monday was the day we met Scout and took a tour of the orphanage. Tuesday, we had to go to the Civil Affairs office to do the official adoption paperwork. Wednesday was a free day, so we took advantage of it to visit the famous Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base.

Everything about the Panda Base was impressive, starting with the panda shaped front gate and the flag lined walkway where you enter. The base covers a good bit of ground, so there are shuttles you can take to get to various areas, but our guide suggested we avoid the crowds and the wait time by walking instead.

The grounds are beautifully landscaped, with colorful flowers, statues, and tall bamboo that provides shade even though it doesn’t usually get particularly sunny in Chengdu.

There are more than 50 Giant Pandas living at the research base, as well as some Red Pandas, peacocks, and other wildlife. Small enclosed structures provide a place for the pandas to rest when they prefer to be indoors, and there are living and play areas constructed outdoors to give them as close to a natural habitat as possible. The first pandas we saw happened to be hanging out indoors, so we observed them from the other side of a big glass window.

The vast majority of them were content to spend the morning outside, though, relaxing in trees, laying on their wooden structures, or eating. One thing we learned is that pandas like to take it easy! {I totally relate…}

There were a handful of baby pandas that were just a few months old. We waited in line for quite a while to see the first group of them, but they sure were cute! Don’t they just look like you could pick them up and cuddle?

If you ever go, the best time to visit is in the morning like we did, sometime between 8:30-10 AM, because you have the best chance of seeing the pandas awake and active.

In addition to seeing the pandas, we also enjoyed the gorgeous views and nature. Meanwhile, I have given up on ever getting a serious family photo. Ever. These boys are too silly!

Our whole family had a great time seeing all that the Panda Base had to offer and we definitely recommend visiting if you ever just happen to be in Chengdu.

The boys give it two thumbs up, and they especially recommend the gift shop. We came home with five stuffed pandas, a bunch of magnets, earrings, chopsticks, keychains, and figurines…the shop owners definitely saw us coming and did a little happy dance for the Western suckers.

Scout thought one of the baby xióngmāo {panda} bears needed to live in Mama’s hair.

That’s all for now…stay tuned for more posts and photos from our trip, including the Pearl River Cruise, Baiyun Mountain, and Baichuan Park.

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  1. What an amazing trip and a beautiful family memory to have <3 And pandas!

    As a mom of silly boys, I gave up serious photos ages ago too 😉 Silly photos are more fun anyway! Even the professionally done family photos we've had done, they're being silly in most of the shots, and that's okay because it's true to them and I love that 🙂

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