If it is on your bucket list to some day see the giant panda up close and personal, then you owe it to yourself to trek to the distant and isolated Wolong Nature Reserve in the Sichuan Province.
Three hours down a bumpy, ill-maintained road from Chengdu, this natural area is known for its preservation of the giant panda species, as well as other endangered animals like red pandas and golden monkeys. There are a number of spaces in which curious travelers may interact with these amazing creatures, whether in the nursery, "playing" with them, or even becoming a volunteer for anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Note:For the moment, Wolong Nature Reserve is still closed to the public so that earthquake repairs can be made. In the meantime, if you'd like to interact with the giant pandas, they can be found temporarily at Bifengxia Panda Reserve, a beautiful natural area a few hours south of Chengdu in Ya'an. Wolong is scheduled to reopen in the coming year... we'll keep you updated!