My Panda Tour was amazing from beginning to end. Two of the three of us on the tour visited Chengdu and two panda bases a few years ago. Based on glowing recommendations from a couple of people I know who had been on trips with My Panda Tour, I corresponded with Alvin to plan a trip to Sichuan province for June 2019. We wanted to visit panda bases, but also see other aspects of Sichuan province life both in Chengdu and outside the city. Seeing the terracotta warriors in Xi’an was of interest to us too.
Alvin always responded quickly to our emails offering ideas and suggestions and asking us questions about our preferences. Alvin planned a 20 day tour for us that included multiple giant panda centers; Chengdu parks, entertainment and shopping; visits to a moon bear rescue, rural Tibetan towns, mountainous areas and nature reserves. A bullet train ride to Xi’an and the terracotta warriors was included. Our itinerary was very impressive but the trip itself was even more fun than we imagined.
Alex was our fantastic guide who was with us for the entire trip. He made sure every meal each day included food we liked. We ate a wide variety of regional Chinese cuisine and loved it. Alex was extremely knowledgeable about individual pandas, accompanied us while volunteering, took numerous photos and was so helpful in translating comments from the keepers and staff. He is fluent in English, easy to understand and has a fantastic sense of humor. He shared portions of the history of China and we gained a better understanding of life in China. He is just an ideal and caring guide.
We did run into occasional road construction outside of Chengdu. Our remarkable driver, Mr. Jun, was so professional and adept at maneuvering along roads that definitely needed repair. We had to take a couple of detours but Alex gave us a choice of detour routes and explained what we might see on each alternative route.
We stayed at the Wolong panda base two nights and took a night tour to the breeding center. It was amazing to stay at the center after closing time and visit pandas until dark. I could watch the antics the panda kindergarten cubs for hours! Volunteering with panda cleanup and feeding was really a lot of fun. Bars always separated us from pandas so we were safe. We raked up panda droppings and bamboo that was not eaten in the outside yard, then cleaned and disinfected the indoor space. Our reward was to hand feed carrots and panda cake to the pandas. I also took part in a new volunteer opportunity to carry a panda’s bowl of milk to him and stay with him while he lapped it up. It came with a pricey fee but I will always treasure those memories.
We enjoyed numerous hikes through lush green surroundings in mountainous areas and nature reserves. Although we did not see a wild panda we saw other amazing Asian animals. Throughout the trip we interacted with many friendly people and we loved talking to them with help from Alex. Alvin helped us secure Chinese SIM cards before our trip and we were able to leave extra bags with him when we departed Chengdu for Xi’an. He delivered them to us when we returned to Chengdu for the flight home. He provided us with delightful activities throughout our itinerary in addition to sightseeing. We enjoyed a painting class, made rubbings of stone steles, and had dinner with a renowned panda researcher and photographer. One afternoon we relaxed in a teahouse and Alex taught us Mahjong.
At the end of our trip Alex sent us a video of our trip and the many experiences we had. It is a great souvenir to have and everyone I’ve shared it with can see why I rave about this trip. Alvin and Alex, thank you so much for those exceptional three weeks in western China. I absolutely recommend My Panda Tour for your visit of any length!
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