Giant Panda Tour in China

Volunteer with the Giant Panda in China

Panda cubs eat apples at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu

Work in China with Giant Pandas in the beautiful mountain region around Chengdu City (the capital of Sichuan Province). If you are interested in animal conservation, this represents a fantastic opportunity to learn about something unique to China : the Giant Panda.


Safeguard the future of one of the most endangered species in the world – the Giant Panda, in the beautiful mountainous area of Chengdu: home to the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Leshan Giant Buddha. With only 1600 Giant Pandas left in the world you can play a real part in ensuring their survival. You may also have time to research and play with these most magnificent and adorable animals as they go about their daily lives.

Volunteering at the Panda Reserve offers you the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the Giant Panda, both the baby pandas and the grown ups. This is the largest Panda base in China and the work you do as well as the care you provide will genuinely help the Panda Reserve to protect these animals from extinction. In the last 2 years the volunteer work at the Panda base has contributed to the doubling of the panda population which is an amazing achievement. The numbers are now such that the Panda Reserve can at last experiment with returning them to the wild.


The Program

Location: Chengdu, China
Dates: email to find out!
Arrival and departure: Chengdu airport on Sunday
Duration:  2 weeks

The Panda reserve has panda raising, reproduction, rare wild animal rescue and education facilities. On a daily basis, typical activities you will be involved in include cleaning the panda’s living areas, preparing food and feeding them. Occasionally, volunteers have been asked to conduct some research into their habits and health, so that we may extend our knowledge and caring activities for this highly endangered species.

Volunteers are needed to play a part in safeguarding the future of the Panda. The Giant Panda is one of the most delightful and captivating of animals, but also one of the most endangered species in the world. Estimates place the total number of pandas in the world at only about 1600 mostly in Sichuan Province. Their survival is uncertain. Saving this species is truly a race against time.

Volunteering in China with the giant panda is a fantastic experience. By joining this program you can make a difference in the conservation of these endangered species. Volunteers are welcome to join this exciting and very rewarding program with the giant hand us in China. In the past few years the survival of the panda’s has been threatened which makes the conservation effort so important for these wonderful animals. This program also gives you the opportunity to participate in cultural activities.

As a volunteer you will be able to take part in this program which will enable you to assist in the safeguarding of the future of these wonderful animals. This program includes a training on the care of the pandas and guidelines for working with these animals. Volunteers will be assigned as an assistant to a member of staff at the panda reserve. The member of staff will be able to answer any questions that you have and instruct you during your volunteering with the pandas. Some of the volunteer activities that you might be involved in are : Prepare food for the pandas such as apples, panda bread, and carrots, chop and carry bamboo, clean panda enclosures, some observations and research.


Itinerary 2 week program

A typical program is as follows. Please note that this will vary from week to week and season to season.

Individual pick up from Chengdu airport.
Welcome dinner in the evening.
After a morning’s rest, tour the city of Chengdu including local markets, parks and the famous ancient pedestrian street of Kuan-zhai Alley. Visit the Business quarter. Later, join us at the welcome dinner in one of the City’s restaurants.
Transfer to the Panda Reserve (2.5 hours by bus). Lunch at the Panda base. Afternoon briefing and introduction to the work you will be doing. Also registration (where you will be issued with your uniform, volunteer card etc). Guided tour of the Panda base and meet the panda keepers whom you will be assisting.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
For the next 3 days you will work as an assistant to the Panda Keeper.
General duties include :
Assist the panda keeper
Clean the bedroom and the garden for the giant panda
Prepare food (carrot, apples, panda bread and biscuit). Chop and carry the bamboo.
Occasionally you will help the scientists to collect the behaviour data or help the veterinary surgeon to give medical care to the pandas.
Weekends are free for site-seeing. Guidance is available on site.


Food and Accommodation

The Panda Reserve is very large and enclosed in the mountains. You will be staying in the volunteer center, which is within walking distance of the reserve. The accommodation has simple amenities and is in shared rooms.

The centre is in a pleasant, cosy, recently renovated hostel. Accommodation is in twin rooms with TV, 24-hour hot water and toilet. Laundry facilities are available for a small charge (20 CNY each time). There are also free wi-fi.

Meals are included. There are 3 meals per day on weekdays and 2 meals per day on weekends.


Facilities and Supplies

Transportation – Every 30 minutes there are buses to the city.

Shops – There are some small grocery stores in and around the panda base.

Money – There is no ATM in the panda base, but there are many banks and ATM machines in Chengdu city. Travellers cheques are very hard to get changed in China. Bring some local currency or use debit/credit cards to withdraw money. The vast majority of time you cannot use a card to pay for transactions on the spot.

Internet and phones – There is free internet in the panda base office during working hours (8:30am – 4:30pm). There are also many internet cafes. You can use your own phone to ring home or use Skype. It would be a good idea if you are staying in China a long time to buy a local phone/sim.

Weather and clothes – During the winter months it can be very cold. Electric blankets are supplied to all beds. These can also be useful for drying the sheets in the summer when it gets very humid and wet.

The mountain weather is very changeable. Bring comfortable clothes. Waterproof shoes and a rain jacket come in handy and a fleece for colder weather. It is advisable for participants to check the weather forecast before they leave. (It tends to be a few degrees colder and a little wetter in the mountains than in Chengdu city).

During your time on the panda reserve you can take as many photos as you like, but you should be aware that there is an extra charge for photos of when holding the pandas. This can be paid directly to the reserve.



Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province. It is a well-known city with a long-standing history and civilization. Chengdu, as early as 5,000 years ago, was a major trading hub southwestern China. Chengdu has many places of interest and is famous for its traditional arts and crafts, ethnic folklore, and beautiful landscapes. Chengdu sports an advantageous geographical location, as well as the Shuangliu International Airport.



What Communication Facilities Are There?

There are free Wifi facilities in the Panda Base as well as at the hostel. Make sure you keep your phones/laptop/cameras fully charged as there are limited points for charging them outside the hostel.

What Is There To Do In The Panda Base During My Free Time During The Weekend?

You can: Visit the wild animals at the zoo (10 minutes by bus from the Panda Base), Go trekking to the waterfall area (there are many famous waterfalls in the mountains close to the Panda Base, set in peaceful and beautiful natural scenery and mountain fresh air), Visit the local market and ancient bridge in Ya’an city.

But most of all enjoy the panda base! It is an ideal place for tourism and an important base for scientific education. It is a beautiful environment with green forest and of course, Giant Pandas!


What Money Will I Need?

There are not many opportunities to spend your money at the Panda base. Beer, fizzy drinks and snacks can all be purchased cheaply. Around 200 Yuan a week should be more than enough. You will however need money for ‘extras’ such as taking pictures of or playing with Pandas as well as self organized weekend trips. The Panda reserve asks for ’donations’ for taking pictures and playing with the pandas which can be quite expensive.

You should note that the nearest ATM that accepts international bank or credit cards is an hour away so it is very important that you get cash out at the airport upon your arrival or in Chengdu when you are there.


What Do I need to bring?

Depending on the time of year and weather, casual and loose fitting clothes are generally needed and a thin waterproof jacket. The summers are hot and the winters are cold. Bring decent boots for when you are working in the panda base. Please note that this is a mountainous region and winters can be very cold.



You need to be minimum 18 years old or be accompanied by an adult. Also you need to be in good physical health with a positive attitude towards volunteering. Volunteers aged 16 and 17 can join provided they have a letter of consent from their parents.


Program Prices: 2 weeks all inclusive US$1599

What’s included:
Airport pick up on arrival day

One day in Chengdu: Orientation + Tour
Transfer to the Panda Reserve
All Food & Accommodation
Program as per Itinerary
24 Hours local support
Transfer back to Chengdu on Saturday morning when the program ends

Not included in the prices is your flight, insurance, visa, personal expenses.

How to book?

Participants are encouraged to email their interest to as far in advance as possible as places are limited. Late applications however are welcome and we will get back to you within 48 hours to let you know if you have been accepted to our program.