The bamboo forests of southern Sichuan are the last stronghold of China’s national treasure, the Giant Panda. Around 1,500 of these adorable black-and-white bears survive in the wild, but they’re notoriously reclusive. For a guaranteed sighting, your best option is a visit to the famous Panda Breeding Base in the northern suburbs of Chengdu. Animal lovers should be reassured: this is nothing like a zoo.
The 80-odd resident pandas roam around 24-hectares (600 acres) of beautiful wooded parkland resembling their native habitat – only fitted with climbing apparatus and feeding stations. The highlight is the nursery, where visitors can watch the fluffy baby bears being cared for by specially trained nursing staff or sleeping blissfully in communal cots.