For one, there was basically no one there which made it much easier going.
Secondly, there were no red pandas which made me incredibly sad. But overall, a much better experience to the panda center. It’s worth effort to get there.
Of course, since this is the new format, and everything now has a travel photography edge to it. I decided it would be a good idea just to do a quick video to show you the keeper images from the day at Bifengxia, how I edited them, and my thought process behind shooting them. There are more images and information about the sanctuary below the video
About Bifengxia Panda Center
The center is a rehabilitation center with the goal of placing some of these pandas back into the wild. The enclosures are very good and nice and open which makes it great for both photography and viewing.
Originally, this was just a research center. However, when another nearby panda center was hit by a massive earthquake, most of the pandas were brought here. There is also a beautiful gorge that you can hike, and a zoo, that I would skip.
Getting to Bifengxia Panda Center
From Chengdu, catch the bus from the tourist bus station, which is next to the Traffic Inn Hostel, to the town of Ya’an (50 Yuan). The ride to Ya’an is about 2 hours.
Once you arrive at the bus station in Ya’an, you’ll need to catch a minibus from the parking lot in front of the bus station. The trip to the sanctuary gates from there cost 5 Yuan each.
Once you’re at the park, you’ll see the zoo to the left side of a big building. Skip the zoo and head into the big building and get your tickets for the panda sanctuary.
If you want to just see the pandas, catch the bus that’s included in the price of the ticket to get to the pandas.
If you want to do a morning hike, you can catch the elevator down to the bottom of the gorge and then hike (1 or 2 hours depending on the direction you go), to get to the pandas.
Note that you should buy your return ticket to Chengdu as soon as you arrive in Ya’an as the seats for the last bus (6:30pm) often sells out.
The Panda Center is open from 8:30-11:30 and 1:30-4:30.
Note that center is closed for lunch, but you can still hang out there. The pandas, however, do nothing but sleep over the lunch hours. The best time to see the pandas is early in the morning.
Staying in Ya’an
Though we just did a day trip, it’s possible to stay not only in Ya’an but up near the Panda Base as well. As soon as you get out of the mini-bus at Bifengxia you’ll have people trying to sell you accommodation. I think if we had another day, we would have done two days. One day to see the pandas, and one day to hike the gorge.
A day trip is possible, but you’ll have to leave Chengdu early.
More Photos of the Pandas
Thoughts on Bifengxia Panda Center
Compared to the Panda Center in Chengdu, this was far better. Not only were the enclosures better, but there weren’t the same amount of disrespectful tourists just looking for selfies with pandas.
As a result of the better situation, the photographs I got of the pandas here were far better. If you can only pick one place to go, visit the Bifengxia center.