Can I See Pandas During Chengdu Airport Layover?

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, is the forth important layover city in China after Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou for its great location and amounts of international flights. During your airport stopover in Chengdu, you can see Giant Pandas, taste specialties of UNESCO's City of Gastronomy, witness the legacy of various Chinese imperial dynasties, and more. To learn how to spend a layover in Chengdu most efficiently, please continue reading.

Is Seeing Giant Pandas Possible During a Chengdu Airport Layover?

If your connecting flight takes place at least six hours after you land on Shuangliu International Airport, you can see Giant Pandas. However, you can do much more than just seeing these likable herbivores during your layover in Chengdu. Therefore, book flights allowing you longer connecting times whenever possible.

What to Do if Layover is Under Six Hours Long?

If you have less than six hours until your next flight, staying at the airport is the best you can do. Because of the distance between Shuangliu International Airport and Panda Breeding Center, you would need to commute no less than 45 minutes either way (1:30 hours both ways). Plus, plan up to 2:30 hours for necessary airport procedures.

Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport

Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport

So, you would have no more than two hours to spend at the Panda Center, even if everything proceeds well along the way. And they would likely sleep if you don't show up between 9 am and 11 am when they are active the most. So, for a short layover in Chengdu, tour the airport's duty-free shops and make use of free WiFi to entertain yourself.

What if the Chengdu Airport Break is Over Six Hours?

More than six hours grants you a comprehensive tour of the Chengdu Panda Breeding Center. During morning hours, you can admire playful and hungry pandas eating bamboos as you walk paths lined with vegetation. Both baby and grown-up pandas engage in entertaining activities this time of day.

Visit panda in Chengdu Panda Breeding Center

Visit panda in Chengdu Panda Breeding Center

If you arrive at any other time of the day, these cuddly symbols of China will likely nap. Even so, you can pay a visit to the Giant Panda Museum. Also, you can see Red Pandas, peacocks, cranes, and a few dozen rare animals living within the complex.

What to Do in Chengdu Layover?

There is a lot you can do in and around Panda City, depending on the duration of your Chengdu Airport break. To make the most during your stay, check out the following activities:

If Your Layover Is Six Hours Long

Option1: Historical and Cultural Tour of Kuanzhai Alley and Qingyang Temple
Aside from spending several hours between flights at Shuangliu Airport, you can have a quick historical, cultural, and gastronomy tour of the capital of Sichuan.

Chengdu Kuanzhai Alley

Chengdu Kuanzhai Alley

This tour of Hibiscus City introduces Kuanzhai Alley, one of the most historic places in this Chinese destination. There, you will admire various gardens, villas, and courtyards that originated during the Qing dynasty, the last dynasty of imperial China.

Besides Qing, you will find references to the Tang dynasty in Qingyang Temple, one of the foremost Taoist temples throughout the country. Finally, you will learn why Chengdu is the city of gastronomy during this layover tour.

Option2: Explore Huanglongxi Ancient Town
Huanglongxi is the synthesis of an ancient Chinese culture, including tea, water, and Buddhist cultures. This ancient town teems with nice-looking mansions, water mills, and vegetation. In this top local tourist destination, you can also see several banyan trees that are around a millennium old. In addition to ancient trees, you can see dozens of buildings added during the Qing and Ming imperial dynasties in Huanglongxi.

Chengdu Huanglongxi Ancient Town

Chengdu Huanglongxi Ancient Town

In Chinese, Huanglong means "Yellow Dragon" while xi is the term for "river." According to legend, the old town achieved such a name because its outline resembles a dragon.

Option3: Taste Local Snacks in Chengdu Back Alley
Back Alley is among the epicenters of good food in Chengdu, and this convenient half-day guided culinary tour introduces some of its top specialties. Spending several-hour long Panda City layover in Back Alley is a good reason for you to hold back plentiful eating before arrival.

If you are more a gourmand than a sightseer, this tour is one of the best Chengdu activities for you. Surely, spending some time exploring dishes and snacks of the capital of Sichuan will make you purchase a return ticket to this destination soon.

Option4: Bike Around Chengdu Downtown
Joining a bike tour is another great thing to do during your Chengdu Airport layover. The capital of the Sichuan Province is among the most bike-friendly cities in China, if not the very friendliest. And, you'll agree, paddling your way throughout the city is much more efficient than getting around on foot, especially for an airport break a few hours long.

Chengdu bike tour

Chengdu bike tour

In the company of a knowledgeable and friendly guide, you will cover the ground quickly and learn a lot about Hibiscus City. Among other things, you will discover the differences between Buddhism and Taoism by visiting Qingyang and Wenshu monasteries. Furthermore, you'll appreciate the beauty of few-centuries old mansions in Kuanzhai Alley. There will be time for shopping at one of Chengdu's popular markets, too.

Option5: Enjoy Night View and Food Tour
Is your connecting flight taking place during night hours? If so, touring a sparkling city on a night view and food tour is one of the best options for you to spend a Panda City airport layover.

Chengdu night view

Chengdu night view

Admire the city panorama from the Jinjiang River and find out how the locals spend their nighttime in pedestrianized Jinli Street. Along the way, you will have an opportunity to treat your taste buds with some unmissable culinary delights.

If Your Break is 12 Hours Long

Option1: See Giant Pandas and Tour City Highlights
A 12-hour-long stopover in Chengdu grants you enough time to tour the city highlights and see Giant Pandas, the symbol of China. Besides getting entertained by gentle herbivores, you will witness various legacies of the Qing dynasty. While touring Wuhou Temple, you will learn curious facts about the Shou dynasty, as well. Finally, grab some snacks and specialties of this UNESCO-designated culinary destination while visiting Jinli Street.

Option2: Join Volunteer Program at Dujiangyan Panda Base
Volunteering at Dujiangyan Panda Base is an excellent way to spend your half-a-day waiting time for a connecting flight from Shuangliu International Airport. During the volunteer tour, get close and personal with likable giants, help to feed them and maintain their enclosures, among other things.

Option3: Visit Qingchengshan and Dujiangyan Irrigation System
Mount Qingchengshan, near the capital of Sichuan, is the birthplace of Taoism and an excellent place to spend your Chengdu Airport stopover. Various Taoist and Buddhist temples occupy the mountain hills, and you'll see some of them on a hiking tour. Mount Qingchengshan is a favorite destination for Chengdu residents to spend a day out.

Mount Qingchengshan

Mount Qingchengshan

Besides the cradle of Taoism, this insightful tour allows you to discover the Dujiangyan Irrigation System. Introduced by Qin, the first and the shortest-lasting Chinese imperial dynasty, Dujiangyan was an engineering marvel of its time. Mostly because of this irrigation system, Chengdu became known as the "Land of Abundance."

Option4: Learn to Cook at Sichuan Cuisine Museum
If you wish to take home more than a memory of tasting local specialties, pay a visit to the Museum of Sichuan Cuisine. After acquainting yourself with the basics of the local gastronomy, you can prepare some dishes on your own. A chef will accompany you every step of the way during the cooking class.

Option5: Visit Chengdu Panda Base and Leshan Giant Buddha
For a 12-hour airport break in the Land of Abundance, you can join a combined tour of Panda Base and Giant Buddha. The former is a reserve and research center of Giant Pandas, and you can see these bamboo-eaters feeding, playing, and sleeping there. The latter is one of the world’s biggest Buddha statues, if not the very biggest, located near Leshan.

Leshan Giant Buddha

Leshan Giant Buddha

Workers carved the statue out of the mountainside, and it is higher than the highest structure in Leshan. Travelers can climb down and up from the top of Buddha to its base via a long stairway. For a full view, take a boat tour from a nearby pier.

Contact 3rdpoletour to Maximize Your Chengdu Layover

During longer Chengdu stopovers, you may wish to visit Leshan Giant Buddha, Mount Emei, Ya'an Bifengxia Panda Base, Yibin Shuhan Bamboo Sea, Luzhou, and Deyang, among other places. If so, get in touch with the 3rdpoletour so we can help you organize your stay.

From Jan 1st, 2019, Chengdu Airport implements transit visa exemption policy for foreign travelers from 53 foreign countries (like the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Australia, Singapore, and Japan, etc.) with valid international travel documents and an interline ticket with confirmed date and seat to a third country (region) within 144 hours. If not, you still need Chinese Visa for your Chengdu layover stay.

How to Travel Between Shuangliu Airport and Chengdu Downtown?

There are a couple of efficient ways of getting between Shuangliu Airport and the Panda City downtown.

By Metro

To get from the Airport to Tianfu Square in the city center, take metro line 10 and catch metro 3 at Taipingyuan. Take a connecting line 1 at the Sichuan Gymnasium Station and alight at Tianfu.

By Airport Shuttle Bus

There are several shuttle-bus companies providing transfers to various locations throughout the city. Airport shuttle 1 takes passengers to the downtown, while buses 2 and 3 travel to North and East Railway stations, respectively.

By Taxi

You can also take a taxi for approximately 80 yuan (over 10 USD) to get you from Shuangliu to the Chengdu city center.


For door-to-door transfers offering the best value for money, hire 3rdpoleyour's pick-up and send-off service.

Where to Stay During Chengdu Airport Stopover Tour?

Travel times between Chengdu airport and downtown are short, in general. By metro, for example, you can commute between these points in around half an hour. However, there are a few factors you should consider when booking a hotel for your airport break in the Land of Abundance.

If your connecting flight takes off early in the morning, stay at an airport hotel. Hotel deals at the airport vary from a few to several dozen USD per night per person. Some budget options you should consider are Baigang and Jingang Holiday. Xiehe and Chengdu Airport Hotel are some recommended upscale hotels. Holiday Inn Express is a good mid-range option.

Many travelers whose journey continues later during the day would opt for accommodation in Chengdu city. That way, they minimize transfer times, get to enjoy the nightlife, and have more time to sightsee. Some reputable hotels in the downtown area are Crowne Plaza (3 stars), Mercure Chengdu Downtown (4 stars), Shangri-La (5 stars), and The Ritz-Carlton (5 stars).


Being the most laid-back metropolis in the People's Republic of China, Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, features engaging tourist attractions and opportunities that make for a comprehensive and enlightening layover. For the best experience based on the duration of your Chengdu airport break, get in touch with us to benefit from the friendly service and insider tips.

Hand-Picked Chengdu Tours

We hand-picked four most popular Chengdu tours for you.

Ask A Quick Question

Get some travel ideas from our professional travel consultants FOR FREE. All of our sample itineraries can be customized to fit your needs.


0 Comments ON “Can I See Pandas During Chengdu Airport Layover?”