A Giant Panda Paradise
No stay in China is complete without a glimpse of the country’s most treasured animal, the giant panda, and children can meet one face-to-face in Chengdu. These magnificent creatures are becoming increasingly rare, so an opportunity to hold a baby panda would be an unforgettable experience that they could carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Though pandas may be Chengdu’s biggest draw, the city itself also has a lot to offer. This hub of Sichuan is much easier on the eyes than most of China’s more populous cities and is filled with charming side streets and tasty restaurants. Temple parks offer green spaces, bamboo forests and Taoist pavilions.
*Due to the May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, travelers are advised to consult the National Tourism Administration for updated conditions before making any travel plans to the province.
The Travelers: Americans Tom and Lisa Kunde, and their daughters Cheryl (13) and Audrey (5).
Panda Experience: The Kunde family loved their visit to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (028 8351 0033). However, if you want assured giant panda interaction, the Kundes suggest traveling to the Wolong Panda Research Station, 138km from Chengdu, but expect to pay a bit more.
Where to Stay: The family recommend the Shangri-La where they enjoyed a beautiful, modern hotel with great service (028 8888 9999).
Where to Hike: The Kunde family loved the hike up Qingcheng Mountain, which passes Taoist temples and wonderful views (the trek features many steps, so younger children may need to be carried). Stop halfway at the restaurant for lunch, then take a ferry across a lake a third of the way up the mountain.
What to Eat: Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province, which is the best place to sample some of the country’s best hot pot (dishes can be adjusted for heat at most restaurants). The family loved a meal at Huang Cheng Lao Ma restaurant, where they enjoyed a traditional face-changing show (028 8523 1777).