13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 8 Chengdu Panda Research Base

Great Breakfast at Sofitel Chengdu Taihe

Our sleep in the luxury suite in Sofitel Chengdu Taihe was indeed sweet. We hardly felt like getting up. In fact, we didn’t really feel like exploring the city after checking in the day before. It was great to be pampered here, especially upgrading to this suite with access to the club floor for afternoon tea and evening cocktail.

We had been in the land of the pandas for a week now. Today, we would get to see some real life pandas. It was about time to meet our lovely friends, the symbol of China. But before that, we had to get some breakfast. We had the option of heading up to the club floor with more privacy or the restaurant below. We decided to head down to the restaurant to join the crowd.

Over at the restaurant, we could still find a table that was unoccupied. The staff attending to us was friendly and helpful. The restaurant had a French theme deco, very pleasant and lovely. Buffet spread was great, a wide selection of western and local food dishes. It was definitely five-star standard food serving.

We went around collecting food we liked and they were good. Except the noodles I got from the noodle station was a little too spicy even though I had told the chef to serve with less chilli. This is Sichuan after all so I can understand. Unless I give local food a miss, I’ll have to get use to spicy food.

Heading to Chengdu Panda Research Base

After breakfast, we returned to our room to get ready. Soon, we left Sofitel Chengdu Taihe. We crossed the main road and walked along the park beside the river towards the left. The morning was quite cooling and the park was quiet with occasional cyclists cycling past. After crossing the bridge at the traffic junction, we entered Xinnanmen MRT Station.

We took this Line 3 and headed north all the way to Panda Avenue Station after passing the Zoo Station. Initially, we deliberated whether just to visit the zoo to look at some pandas. The Club Floor staff at Sofitel Chengdu Taihe suggested we visit the Chengdu Panda Research Base for a better experience with the pandas. So here we were exiting the MRT station.

Shuttle Bus to Panda Research Base

Once outside, travel agents in bright yellow vest were out there promoting their services. We were somewhat coerced up a free shuttle bus to the Panda Research Base. The seats on the bus were adorned with cute and lovely panda covers. The bus was very clean and smelt good too.

Soon the bus was filled and passengers were mostly young people. A staff came on board and we were on the way to the Panda Research Base. He started to provide more information concerning the panda base.

We could purchase entrance tickets from him at CNY 55 which is cheaper than the price sold at the main entrance. Most of the other passengers had already purchased tickets through their Apps via Wechat. Some others paid using their mobile phones but we paid cash.

Not long after, we were dropped off at the entrance. There were quite a lot of people at the main entrance. We got through with our tickets purchased on the bus. A lot of people were mingling inside the entrance and a long queue was already formed outside the office of the information centre. We went in and bought the shuttle bus tickets at CNY 10 and got a map of the attraction here.

Internal Shuttle Service

We then dutifully joined the queue very far back behind the office. It was already 11 am. The queue moved but didn’t seem to be quick enough. More electric shuttles showed up to ferry visitors into the panda base. Some time later, it was our turn to board the shuttle bus.

The atmosphere here in the base was great, a very cooling day. There are quite a number of places we could visit including the incubation lab. But we were here just for the pandas and not much into research and other information. We intended to walk as little as possible while my wife tried not to aggravate her sprained ankle.

Finally, we reached the last stop all the way inside the research base. Everyone lighted. The place here was really nice, very well designed and spacious. We walked along and enjoyed this park like environment. Not long after, we finally got to see some pandas in the open.

Adorably Lovable Pandas

These lovely curly friends were completely oblivious to visitors. They were playful enjoying themselves this late autumn morning eating to their hearts content. They were really adorable. Some played and tumbled along while others simply curled up resting on the ground or on trees. Most of them were quite active.

Another panda kept trying to climb a tree and fell so many times. Embarrassment wasn’t in his dictionary. He didn’t give up and wasn’t bothered by laughter from visitors. Loud noises couldn’t distract him.

Eventually, he made it up on a tree sitting up there triumphantly attracting loud applause from visitors all over. There were great moments for photographers to capture the antics of these lovely animals, definitely projecting a friendly and lovely face of what China has to offer.

We then left the place here with many more attractions to visit. But we were getting hungry and had enough of enjoyment with the sights of these adorable creatures. This was the second time we saw pandas. The first time we saw pandas was in the zoo in Taipei. This time was much better with so many pandas to watch and enjoy their carefree existence here, no doubt being pampered to the fullest probably not suitable to live in the wild again.

Leaving Panda Research Base

So we hopped back on a shuttle heading back to the entrance. Walking back out would take quite a bit of time as the compound in the research base is rather large. There are also free roaming red pandas in the woods.

Perhaps when we visit the next time we would come earlier to enjoy this place more thoroughly. Along the way, some other visitors boarded the shuttle as well. Those without the tickets paid the driver when they arrived at the entrance.

After exiting this Panda Research Base, we boarded the shuttle bus back to the MRT Station. The shuttle was free to bring us to this attraction but we had to pay for this ride which wasn’t expensive at all. Not long after we alighted and went into the Panda Avenue MRT Station. We were heading for lunch at Chunxi Road Shopping District.

Lunch at Chunxi Road Shopping District

A short ride later, we exited the very busy Chunxi Road MRT Station. We were immediately dwarfed by high rise buildings around us, right in the middle of a shopping area. Malls and stores were all over. This was a very busy and exciting place. We needed to fix our lunch first.

At the Square, we went into KFC for a quick lunch. My wife was hoping to try the soya milk recommended by friends. We had some finger food as we planned to return to our Club Floor in Sofitel Chengdu Taihe for afternoon tea. It was a very quick and simple lunch but satisfying nevertheless. KFC was also decorated with pandas theme enhancing our dining experience.

We then headed back to street level and joined the maddening crowds thronging the area. This place was very big and we won’t be able to visit every store in every mall here. We bought some souvenirs in one of the malls with small stalls nested on the ground level. After roaming some malls, we were getting tired.

So it was back to the MRT Station. This time we changed train at Tianfu Square Station and boarded another train from Line 1 and went to Jinjiang Hotel Station, just one station away. From there, we took a short stroll back to Sofitel Chengdu Taihe Hotel. It was such a relief to be back to our luxurious hotel.

Afternoon Tea at Sofitel Chengdu Taihe

We went straight up to the Club Floor and indulged ourselves with the pastries, cakes and fruits. We didn’t miss any single colour of macrons. Our coffee was good too. The friendly staff chatted with us and asked about our adventure. They had provided us the information for our trip to the Panda Research Base which was excellent.

It was back to our wonderful suite room next for shower and relax over TV and chatting with children and friends with our close up encounters with those lovely pandas. The spaciousness of our luxury suite was really great. It was worth every cents to upgrade to this suite room for some indulgence.

Cocktail Dinner at Club Floor

Time flew as we slacked in comfort here in our awesome room. We had all we needed. Later in the evening, we went back up to the Club Floor for cocktail. It was the same great experience this time with more food options.

The staff there were really good, really friendly and helpful in every way. The food was of course very nice. We needed not head out to look for dinner.

It was time to end the night with more relaxation in our wonderful room. The day spent at the Pandas Research Base was fantastic. We would be back during our next visit. Shopping at Chunxi Road was only half done. We would return the next day to explore further.

While we didn’t cover a lot of grounds here in Chengdu, we were nevertheless satisfied, especially for my wife to heal her sprained ankle as she dutifully sprayed those pain reliefs and use the medicated rub on her ankle. It would be nice if we could buy an ankle guard but with no success here. So we while the night away waiting for more visit around the city the next day.

Continue to Day 9

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