Read what other Viator.com travelers think about the Viator Exclusive: Volunteer at Panda Breeding Center with Optional Panda Holding. What they loved, what they liked and what they think could be improved, it's all here to help you make the most of your next trip.
This entire experience was a bucket list for me, not only did I get to touch a Panda, but I had the chance to feed a few of the Pandas. on the down side to this tour was that I thought I was going to the Chengdu but I was in Wolong, I was nice was because it had way less tourist. You really don't hold a Panda, you sit next to them, but I totally understand, 1 1/2 year old Panda that is some what wild. overall I would do it again because I turned from 33 to a kid again.
I booked this activity for my two teenage boys, husband and self. It was "amazing."
To be that close to the Pandas and hand feeding them was a memory we will all cherish. Well worth every dollar paid as you are taken behind the gates where the general public aren't allowed to access.
Awesome experience. If you want to be able to get behind the scenes and feed Pandas, prepare their bamboo food, clean up their enclosures, a volunteer day is a great way to do it. My English speaking tour guide picked me up at my hotel in the morning. It's roughly a 2 hour drive from Chengdu. When we arrived we walked around viewing Pandas for a little while before I put in the overalls and gloves and reported for 'duty'. There were 6 volunteers that day and we got bamboo ready to feed them, swept and mopped up, then it was time to take turns feeding one of the Pandas. Then I had free time for the guide to show me around the facility to view other Pandas in their enclosures. Periodically during the day I went back for more duties and feeding Pandas. Had a delicious lunch with my guide and driver across the road (with free wifi too). Whilst I would have loved to have taken a photo holding a Panda, the cost was too much for my budget. As a volunteer I was able to take as many photos as I wanted while they were being fed and feeling their warm breath on my hand while feeding them and hearing their sounds of contentment when eating the food - especially apples being their favourite was such a special experience I will treasure.
The tour guide was excellent and personlized the trip for me adding in a nice hike in a local gorge on the way back.
Such a fantastic day, I was traveling by myself and this tour completely made my weekend. My guide so sweet, spoke perfect English and was really knowledgable about the center. Would do this again in a heartbeat.
Fantastic day - wonderful access to the pandas but no one would answer my question of why they are breeding all of these pandas in captivity with no viable plans of releasing them back to the wild.
It was great spending time up close with the panda, but I wouldn't really call this a volunteering experience. Also the guide provided was not very knowledgeable or needed really, as the panda centre provide their own guide. I wouldn't recommend this, tour to other especially considering the price
We really wanted to see Pandas up close and personal and thought there was no better way than to sign up for this 1-day volunteer programme at the Panda Breeding Center. We read the reviews by previous participants before signing up. Our expectations were also somewhat set by what we read. We were picked up promptly at 7.30 am at the hotel by Lilian, our guide. As we speak Mandarin, she was able to offer us lots of information about the pandas and Chengdu. We thought we were going to the Panda Breeding Center just 40 min north of Chengdu but when we were in the car, we were told that it would be a 2.5 hours drive to the breeding center at Bifengxia. Apparently, at the beginning of May, the center near Chengdu stopped accepting volunteers. So essentially, an 8-hour programme has shortened to just 5 hours (3 hours on the roads).
When we arrived at the Breeding Centre, it was past 10 am and Lilian brought us around to see the pandas and told us more about them which was great. We expected that the keepers would be the ones telling us facts about pandas but they did not. I don't think they were expected to. At 11 am, we were brought behind the scenes. We expected to be able to prepare panda food and clean the enclosures as this was the impression given to us by past reviews. However, all we did was cut a piece of panda cake which was pre-made. We then fed a panda which was in a cage the panda cake and a carrot. We did this again at 2 pm. That was all we did for our volunteer work. We were told that there were too many volunteers and the enclosures were already cleaned early in the morning so there was nothing else for us to do. We asked to see the panda cubs up close but were told that it was not allowed as they have weak immunity at a young age. While we appreciated being able to see pandas up close but there was no other interaction allowed. We felt that this experience was a let down for the amount we paid. We don't think the center needs any volunteers.
My partner and I went to Chengdu especially to do this Viator tour. We looked at plenty of other tour companies and options but chose this one because it advertised being “a panda volunteer for a day” and an exclusive tour not available anywhere else. Not only was the tour itself extremely expensive but we also had to pay for flights, accommodation and transfers. Given how much effort and expense went into this trip to Chengdu we were extremely disappointed with what happened. We did not experience what was promoted, promised or advertised.
To begin with the trip to the panda base from the centre of Chengdu is at least two hours. There is absolutely no way it would ever be one hour as advertised. It’s just not possible to cover the distance in just 60 minutes. Secondly, we know there is a disclaimer saying volunteer duties may change on the day, but we didn’t do anything outlined. We didn’t get to record panda behavior, we didn’t get to prepare the food or wash the bamboo and we didn’t support staff with cleaning. Viator also claims this is an exclusive tour you won’t find anywhere else. We saw plenty of other people doing exactly what we were doing but were doing it through other tour companies. How is the Viator tour exclusive when everyone else is doing it too?
The highlight of the day was no doubt feeding the pandas. This was an extraordinary experience and something we will never forget. Our tour guide was also lovely, helpful and knowledgeable. But did we feel like panda volunteers for the day? Absolutely not. Apart from feeding the pandas, there was nothing different, unique, special or exclusive about what we did. The tour was expensive and we really didn’t get what was promised or advertised. We won’t be recommending this specific tour or Viator to other friends. We feel cheated, mislead and very disappointed.