Panda Volunteer Experience in China

Volunteer with giant pandas on this incredible project in China, and help to forge a future for these amazing animals.

The Panda Volunteer Experience in China blends cultural exploration and wildlife conservation in a enriching week-long itinerary. Head behind the scenes of one of the largest panda conservation and research centres, helping care for these iconic bears while gaining insight into the world of panda conservation. From the success of bringing the population back from the brink of extinction to the challenges still threatening the species today, the Bifengxia panda base is the perfect place to learn about and connect with China's national animal and a worldwide conservation icon, the giant panda. 

Beyond your time with the pandas, fully immerse yourself in Chinese culture with captivating city tours in Chengdu, intricate language & handwriting lessons, and traditional crafting and ancient pastime activities. This all-encompassing trip offers an authentic yet responsible panda experience with a chance to soak up the beautiful complexities that weave together to form China’s cultural heritage.

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Lauren Mackinnon


Chengdu City
City Tour & Visit To Panda Breeding Centre Kickstart your trip with a leisurely city stroll, passing through Taiguli shopping districts and then visit Chengdu's Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Pandas, a huge panda breeding centre working to stabilise panda populations - including endangered red pandas. Later in the week, venture to the Chengdu Museum and explore renowned sites like People's Park, Kuanzhai Alley, Tianfu Square, and the Panda Post Office! You’ll of course have the opportunity to savour Chengdu's renowned culinary delight, Huo Guo, also known as hotpot.
Food Prep & Panda Cake Making - Panda Conservation Experience in China
Food Preparation & Panda Cake Making Giant pandas spend most of their day eating bamboo - consuming anywhere up to 38kg a day. You'll join the panda caretakers in preparing their meals consisting of apples, carrots, and various types of bamboo. You'll also try your hand at making panda cakes, which are loaded with carbohydrates and protein, providing the pandas with the energy they need for their playful antics.
Panda Research
Panda Behaviour Observations Assist in observing, recording, and analysing the behaviour of captive giant pandas. Through this experience, you will gain insight into the routines and habits of these charismatic bears, as well as learn about their diet, health, and overall well-being. Your detailed records of observations will contribute to ongoing research efforts aimed at understanding and protecting this endangered species and, hopefully, one day, support their release back into the wild!
Enclosure Cleaning - Panda Volunteer Experience in China
Bamboo Planting The reserve is home to approximately 80 pandas, and each panda needs to eat around 12-38kg of bamboo each day. Therefore, having a sustainable source of bamboo is crucial for the reserve. You will join the reserve staff in planting bamboo for the pandas and take part in the tradition of writing blessings to help it grow!
Panda Volunteers Taking Part in a Research & Education Activity
Research and Education Volunteers will take part in a variety of research and educational activities. These may include analyzing panda faeces, learning about the methods used to study wild panda populations, and understanding the challenges encountered during field investigations. You will also join the base staff in identifying bamboo and gain a comprehensive understanding of panda eating habits. Additionally, you may learn about common diseases and detection methods and watch documentaries on panda conservation and their current status.
Valley Walk on Panda Volunteer Experience in China
Bifengxia Valley Walk Bifengxia is a national 5A-level scenic spot renowned for its awe-inspiring landscapes. During your visit, your group will venture on a 2-3 hour walk through Bifengxia Valley, navigating cliff-hugging plank roads and visiting a number of stunning waterfalls along the way, all with a backdrop of the Bifengxia mountain range.
Cultural Activities on the Panda Volunteer Experience in China
Cultural Activities Over the course of the week, you'll have the chance to engage in diverse cultural activities that offer insights into all that makes China unique. You may attend Chinese language and handwriting lessons, master the art of crafting panda sculptures from clay, or immerse yourself in the ancient Chinese game of Mahjong!


Please note that this itinerary is subject to change so what follows is a rough guideline.

Day 1 – The Adventure Begins : After meeting the project representative and transferring to the local hostel in Chengdu, you will be free to explore the local area, taking in the sights and sounds of the busy city and getting your first taste of Chinese culture. For dinner, why not try some market food? Perhaps tuck into a hotpot if you're brave enough to handle the spice!
Day 2 - Exploring Chengdu: Embark on a walking tour today to explore the local sights before visiting the Chengdu IFS and Taiguli shopping area. Following lunch, you'll gather your belongings and transfer by bus to the Bifengxia panda base (approximately a 2.5-hour drive). The day concludes with a welcoming dinner, offering an opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers and the staff at the panda reserve.
Day 3 & 4 - Panda Base Work: These days are filled with various aspects of panda care. From food preparation to behavioural observations and planting bamboo, you'll experience life as a panda caretaker. During your time at the Bifengxia panda base, you'll also delve into the complexities of giant panda conservation. After hours, you'll have the opportunity to explore the grounds and take part in cultural crafting, language and game nights!
Day 5 - Bifengxia Valley Walk: Today, you'll fill your morning with stunning views on an adventurous walk through the Bifengxia Valley. Then, following lunch, your group will return to Chengdu by bus, allowing time for relaxation before a dinner outing to savour the city's renowned spicy dish, the hotpot!
Day 6 - City Landmarks Tour: Following breakfast, you'll head over to the Chengdu Museum, immersing yourself in captivating exhibitions showcasing ancient puppetry and wood carvings. In the afternoon, you'll explore more of Chengdu with a tour of renowned city landmarks, including People's Park, Kuanzhai Alley, Tianfu Square, and the Panda Post Office.
Day 7 - Chengdu Departure: Unfortunately, it's time to say your goodbyes to your fellow volunteers and transfer back to Chengdu International Airport to return home or to begin your onward travel plans. You'll leave with a wealth of panda knowledge and enriching cultural experiences, making for unique memories that will last a lifetime.

Durations & Prices

To secure a place on this project, a deposit of $245 is required at the time of booking. The remaining balance is due 60 days before your start date.

Flexible Payment Options: If you select a start date more than 3 months in advance, we offer convenient payment plans, allowing you to pay off your balance in instalments. Select your start date below to view these.

Note: The maximum age for joining this project is 65 years old.

Duration Price
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Payment breakdown



During your stay in Chengdu, you will be staying in a quaint hostel, perfectly located for exploring the city. The dorm-style rooms are shared, with a maximum of 6 people per room. At the Bifengxia panda base, you will be accommodated in a comfortable hostel within the reserve grounds on a twin-sharing basis. You may be able to upgrade your room, subject to availability, both in Chengdu and at the reserve. To learn more about the room options, please get in touch with one of our travel agents.

Meals & Beverages

Apart from your arrival day, all meals are included and are typically served in traditional Chinese style. The staples of these meals will primarily consist of rice, noodles, vegetables, and some meat. If you have any dietary restrictions, such as being a vegan, vegetarian, or having allergies, please let us know in advance. Drinking water, Chinese tea, and coffee will be available throughout the day (depending on location), and while soft or alcoholic drinks are not included, they can purchased for a small fee.

Project Details

When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?

As this is a sanctuary, you will be able to volunteer with pandas all year round. That said, there are numerous events throughout the year which may make some months more popular:

March - May: this is panda mating season, and as a result the bears may be moved for mating research purposes. Volunteers who visit during this season may be able to help the keepers to move the pandas, though please note that this is not a guarantee. Additionally, strict regulations and security conditions forbid volunteers to take part in the actual mating research.

June - August: this is arguably the most popular time of the year, as it’s panda cub season! Volunteers across these months may be lucky enough to see young pandas at the centre, so if this is something which excites you, be sure to book your place early as spaces fill up fast!

November - February: this is the quietest time of the year, but the benefit of this is that you may get to spend a little extra time with the pandas – after all, the fewer people there are involved, the busier you’ll need to be!


In addition to the above events, Chengdu’s weather may have some bearing on your preferred month of travel. Each season is described below:

Spring: Falling between mid-February and April, Springtime is a beautiful time to visit Chengdu. The city (and its nearby areas) are in full-bloom, and if you’re looking to fill your spare time with things to do, consider witnessing the blossoms at Longquan Mountain and Xinjin County!

Summer: China’s summers are known for being incredibly humid, and Chengdu is no exception. While summer lasts between May and August, it’s July and August which draw the hottest weather and the rainiest days. That said, much of your time at the project may be spent indoors as you prepare food for the pandas, and Jiulong Valley (around 1:45hr away) is a great place to go if you wish to escape the heat of the city.

Autumn: Temperatures drop between September and October, and there may be a lot of rain (particularly in the early days of Autumn). However, temperatures are far more comfortable for working in, and Chengdu’s local natural areas are covered in beautiful red maple and yellow chrysanthemum, so grab your camera and get snapping!

Winter: Wintertime can be very chilly indeed, with temperatures dropping to around 5 °C (41 °F) between the months of November and mid-February. Much like in summer, however, you may find much of your time spent working indoors, and with less tourists around, this is a great opportunity to sneak a few extra peeks at those pandas!

Average Monthly Weather in Chengdu, China

Getting There

You will need to arrive into Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport on the start date of your project (a Sunday) between 1pm and 6pm and you will be transferred to a local hostel to begin your adventure. Pick up is at the exit of corresponding to your flight, and your volunteer coordinator will accompany you via an airport bus to the hostel. Chengdu can be reached via a number of larger international airports. If you arrive a day before you are free to make your way to the Kehuayuan Hostel, but please inform us of this before you depart.  

Visa Requirements

A visa is needed for entry into China, and applications must be made in person at a Visa Application Centre as biometric data (such as scanned fingerprints) are necessary. Visas for British citizens are priced from £85 (additional fees may apply); you can read more about visa fees and start an application here. If you are not a British citizen, you will either need to speak to your own country’s embassy, or you may be able to find out more information by clicking here. Please note that visa applications should be made well in advance of your time on the project.

Criminal Background Check

It is a requirement for all participants to submit a criminal background check, prior to arrival. 

Fitness & Skills

The work required during this project is not overly exerting, but it is advised that all participants have a moderate level of fitness. No specific skills or experience are required, just commitment to the project and its aims. You must be prepared to work alongside other members of the team.


The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.


Helen Whittaker, 2019

The whole experience was great and very well organised but I would have to say that being able to feed the pandas was my favourite moment

Emma Widdows, 2018

My favourite moment was getting to a feed a panda and spending time so close to them. It was so well organised from start to finish and I would highly recommend The Great Projects and the Panda Experience!

Mayumi Uemura, 2017

It was a great experience. More than I expected. Also my family and friends are glad I did it. I would like to do it again!

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What's Included

  • Accommodation
  • Airport transfers
  • 3 meals a day at the panda sanctuary (food on your first night is not covered)
  • Tea, coffee and water
  • Tour around the vibrant city of Chengdu
  • Chinese language and calligraphy lessons

What's Not Included

  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Soft and alcoholic beverages