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Panda Conservation near Xi'an


Price above is guide only. Choose start date for your price.



Ever wanted to live alongside one of the world's most adored animals?

This is a unique chance to get up-close and personal to the precious Giant Panda in the remote Chinese wilderness. Life is rarely black and white… unless you're a Giant Panda on the brink of extinction. With an already low world population in decline there are certainly no grey areas in this panda project, so do your bit and ‘panda’ to their every need! Based in majestic surroundings at the foot of the Qingling Mountains, you'll also have the chance to work with other species indigenous to China such as the Golden Monkey, Red Panda and the sheep-like Takin.

Trip Highlights:

  • Spending time with Giant Pandas - wow!
  • Experiencing China - a huge and mind blowing country
  • Learning some Chinese. Not as difficult as you may think(!) and richly rewarding

Fast facts

Project duration: 
Min 2 weeks - Max 4 weeks
Location of project: 
Lougantai, Zhouzhi county, Shaanxi province. Remote location, about 1.5 to 2 hours away from Xi'an
Arrival airport: 
Xian (airport code XIY)
Various types of work with animals, including helping with feeding and facilities maintenance.
Working hours: 
Flexible; usually 5 days a week and 4 -5 hours a day, all other time is free
Getting to the project: 
On site accommodation
Minimum age 17, A letter from your doctor that states that you're fit and healthy to work with pandas

What's included

Shared accommodation on site
All meals
Airport pickup: 
Included on arrival date - ask us for details if you're arriving early
In-country orientation
Pre-departure helpdesk, local in-country team and 24hr emergency support

What's not included

Flights, Insurance, Visas, Return Airport transfer, Local Transport


Day 1 – Saturday: Welcome to Xi’an (Airport code XIY)

Today you’ll fly into Xi’an airport and be collected by our local i to i team who will be waiting in the arrivals hall holding our logo!

You’ll be transferred to either our volunteer apartment or a local guesthouse (dependent on availability) in Xi’an centre, and it will take up to one hour to get there. This will be your home for the next two nights whilst you receive your orientation and you are in a great location to explore the city and see the sights of Xi’an!

Tonight though, you’ll most likely need a good night’s sleep, so this is your chance to relax!

Day 2 – Sunday: Orientation time!

Today you’ll be given an orientation at the volunteer apartment in Xi’an with all the other volunteers arriving the same day as you. There will be volunteers from all the other different projects that we have in Xi’an; so it’s a great way to meet more people and make more friends!

The orientation is a crucial part of settling in to life in China and will take you through what it’s going to be like at your project, do’s and don’ts, how to stay safe and it’s your prime opportunity to ask any burning questions that you haven’t yet had answered. After the orientation you’ll have some time to relax and prepare before being transferred to the Panda project tomorrow. 

Day 3 – Monday: Transfer to Lou Guan Tai

This morning you’ll be packing up your bags and heading to Lou Guan Tai. The transfer will take around 1.5 hours. You’ll be driving through some amazing scenery, so make sure your camera is within easy reach!

You’ll be introduced to the project staff who will take you around the centre, show you to your room and give you time to unpack and get yourself acquainted with your new surroundings!

Depending on what time you arrive at the centre, you may start your activities today and you can work with the staff to decide what you can help the project with during the time that you are there.

Days 4 – 7 : Carry on at the project

The rest of the week will be spent getting settled in and finding your own routine as you learn to live like a local with your new friends and new lifestyle!

Days 8 - 9 (Saturday to Sunday): The weekend is here!

The next two days are yours to spend as you please! We’d be delighted to offer you the following ideas:

There are plenty of beautiful lakes and waterfalls in the vicinity that you can roam around and explore! There’s also nothing like mountain climbing whilst breathing in the fresh and clean air around you!

The region you'll be staying in is at the northern foot of Mount Zhongnan - 15 kilometers southeast of the seat of Zhouzhi County, Shaanxi Province. The area is backed by mountains and overlooks a beautiful river. The surrounding forests are very lush and are great for walking in and are full of Chinese pine, juniper trees and bamboo. There are temples near to the project too that you can visit.

If you’re looking for a change of scenery and fancy the hustle and bustle that only a city has to offer, there is very limited public transport into Xi’an. (You may also be able to ride with the project staff.) The sensational local sights of the terracotta warriors, Chinese Gardens, historic Muslim Quarter, City wall, bell tower and Pagodas await you! There will be internet access if you are looking to keep in touch with friends and famly back home. Please note that the cost of the transfer back to the city is not included.

Following weeks

The following weeks will be spent settling in at the project and helping out wherever you are needed- be prepared to get your clothes dirty at this project! You’ll spend time learning basic Mandarin, eating delicious local food at a nearby restaurant and falling into bed each night. This project is perfect for volunteers who are looking to live and work within a beautiful centre focused on the well-being of endangered species.

Your Last Day (Saturday)

On your last day of the project, you’ll make the journey back to Xi’an airport which takes around 2 hours. This is not covered in your project fee, so will be at your own cost, but our team are on hand to help you make any arrangements and to offer advice.

The transfer back by taxi to the airport costs approximately US$50 so please budget for this. There is a local bus that you can catch, which is cheaper. You can ask staff at the project about this when you get there if this option takes your fancy!


What does the project do?

At this project you will be working in a Chinese conservation centre that aims to preserve some of the world's most endangered species. These include: Giant Pandas, Golden Monkeys, the Crested Ibis, the Takin; which is a large sheep-like creature that lives only in China and Bhutan, as well as the Sika, which is similar in appearance to a deer. The Golden Monkeys and the crested Ibis are both indigenous to China.

The world's total population of wild Giant Pandas stands at about 1,000, which are mainly distributed in Shaanxi and Sichuan provinces of China. In Shaanxi, there are about 270 giant pandas living in the Panda Reservations.

What’s the project like?

You will be working in a very remote location, which is about 1.5 to 2 hours away from Xi'an city centre. The area is very rural so whilst you won’t be living amongst nightlife, restaurants and shops, you will be living amongst stunning scenery and within a serene, laid back lifestyle!

It is important to note that this project does not involve any hands on work with the pandas. You will be getting involved in feeding the pandas and cleaning their cages, you will also be in extremely close proximity to them with just with a sturdy cage separating you at all times from the pandas (for health and safety reasons).

You can also help the staff with their English, which is important so that they can attract more tourists and generate an increase in revenue at the centre, this can then pay for research and looking after the pandas. The project staff also want to improve and practice their English, so that they can attend international conferences about animal conservation.

There's a wide range of activities which you'll be able to choose from to ensure you get the most from your trip! Daily duties have been developed by previous volunteers working together with the staff at the centre and the in country coordinator to maximize your experience and learning opportunities. You will be able to specify which animals in particular you want to work with. Please note that the Pandas are kept in enclosures in the park with access to greenery, however the park is not a safari park.

Activities and schedule

Your help would be appreciated for 2-4 hours each day; the park is open between 8am and 6pm daily so you can work with the team when you arrive to devise a timetable and work plan. Your typical schedule is between Monday-Friday and the weekends are yours to spend as you please!

Project resources and advice

Having read through lots of volunteer feedback, we recommend you bringing the following items with you to the project:

A decent camera – you cannot take photos inside with a flash, so it is worth having a camera that can support good photos without a flash.

Please note that while you are welcome to take as many photos as you like for personal use, you will be asked to sign an agreement with the project not to use any photos or videos taken for commercial purposes, such as media.

The project will aim to provide any materials or equipment such as boots, gloves and overcoats.

Take old clothes that you don't mind getting dirty, comfy hiking shoes are essential. Bring a hat in the summer and thick jumpers for winter!


In order to protect the Pandas from any infections, the project has requested that you provide a medical note from your doctor when you arrive, confirming that you are fit and well and are not carrying any infectious diseases. Please send this into our office a month prior to your arrival and take it with you to the project. Please also note that as the pandas are ultimately released into the wild then human contact is kept to a minimum and you will not be able to hold them.

You will need a TOURIST visa for your trip to China. We ask that you do not mention “volunteering” as immigration departments often get confused and think you are receiving something in return. You have paid in full for your trip and therefore are travelling as s tourist. It is your responsibility to get the correct visa and we cannot offer any other invitation letters other than one for a “Tourist Visa”.


Accommodation facilities

The communal lounge is large and has lots of wooden chairs, coffee table and computer desk. You will have shared use of a fridge, freezer, TV/DVD player, books (left by previous volunteers), PC, kettle, toaster, crockery, utensils and microwave oven. Lockers with keys are available in the lounge area and rooms are kept cool by a large portable fan.

The bathroom area consists of two basic showers with hot water, two western toilets and a sink.

There is a washing machine and powder is provided and an outdoor and indoor washing for drying. Towels have been left by previous volunteers and are available to use. Bedding and a pillow will be provided. There is a mosquito proof net at each doorway and each bedroom door has a lock and key. There are no hooks to hang personal mosquito nets, so we recommend that you do not bring your own.

WiFi is available throughout the building.  

Please be aware that there are occasional power cuts to save energy which lasts for long periods. We highly recommend that you are prepared with torches, lanterns and battery operated fans.

The accommodation is on site in a semi secluded part of the park, which is approximately a 1.5 hour drive to Xi’an.

What to bring from home

You will have breaks during the day and your evenings will be free, so we do recommend that you bring books, playing cards, travel games etc to keep you occupied. There is a hot springs nearby, so we recommend that you also take a swimming costume. 

What you get

Next steps

Flights & insurance

Country information

I've done this trip. Write review >
Sahana Mehta gives this project
Here is what Sahana had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Working with the pandas, getting to meet other people and work with them.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
Bring something to do in free time, make the most of the time you have in the city, do everything you can do outside of the panda conservation
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
surprising, new, scary, exciting, interesting, entertaining, life changing
Elise Ireland gives this project
Here is what Elise had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Being around the animals all day and eating all the amazing food! I definitely didn't go hungry. The staff at the centre are very welcoming and Tiger does a lot to make things go smoothly for you and will take you on hikes in the local area (including the "2000 steps" - killer :P).
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
If you go in winter make sure you take something akin to ski gear. It is absolutely freezing - including in the accommodation. Have a torch handy - sometimes the power goes off unexpectedly. Take plenty of things to do - I was the only volunteer for two weeks so I didn't have a whole lot of social interaction apart from meals and during my shifts :P.
Christine Humphrys gives this project
Here is what Christine had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Definately the Panda's!!!! Being able to work alongside the keepers in their day to day caring for the animals. Also being able to see all the beautiful attractions in the country on days off.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
Learn the basics of Chinese (mandarin) it really does help Pack lightly, you really only need the basics to get by Get out and sightsee!!! There is so much to see!!!
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
A self rewarding spiritual journey that changed my life for the better
Fiona Pringle gives this project
Here is what Fiona had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
The pandas of course & the other animals also the beautiful Qinling mountains
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
Take wet wipes Do as much as possible Go for more than 2 weeks
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
Amazing & wonderful experience something that I'll always remember forever
Catriona Walker gives this project
Here is what Catriona had to say:
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
1)Do not assume you will be working with the animal all day. 2)Make sure you take plenty of thing to do.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
Working with the Panda's was fantastic.
Jennifer Tambosco gives this project
Here is what Jennifer had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
The highlights of my trip was my first encounter with brown panda, but also meeting with his Zookeepers.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
Anti mosquito DVD Flip flops for showers
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
A unique experience, meeting and learning about life panda
Jenny Stagol gives this project
Here is what Jenny had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Being up close to pandas. Working alongside dedicated staff. Tiger was fantastic.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
Make the most of every moment. Offer to do extra tasks. Take side trips.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
A privelege to have this amazing experience.
Chloe Cross gives this project
Here is what Chloe had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
- Meeting new people (Chinese and other volunteers) - Having the opportunity to help teach English to school children - Learning how to look after Pandas and understanding enrichment exercises for them and the Moon Bears - Be able to work with my Panda's keeper Matao - Experiencing a part of China where most tourists wouldn't even know existed
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
- Perpare for not having as much involvement with the animals caretaking as thought and when thinking of enrichment ideas for the Pandas, expect most ideas to be rejected. But this might not always be the case. - Enjoy not having access to home luxuries like western food, perfect showers and toilets, TV and Facebook. It's actually nice to learn how to appreciate these things, so don't use all your time complaining about what you miss from home!!! Use your time to learn how to live without them and appreciate your mind having air to breathe... - Try to learn some Chinese! The people at the panda park try their best in learning English so show some respect/interest in return by trying to speak a few Chinese words to them.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
My mind was awakened and able to see things differently...
Alice De Marchi gives this project
Here is what Alice had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
The pandas were amazing, it was such a unique experience that I will never forget.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
1. Learn some of the local language. 2. Pack for all weather. 3. Go with an open mind.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
Such a unique experience!
Jennifer Ethans gives this project
Here is what Jennifer had to say:
What were the highlights of your trip?
Being so close to pandas, and having the opportunity to travel around the center, such as to the Tao Resort Spa and hike the mountain peak, as well as being able to see Xi an on the weekends.
Do you have 3 top tips for future travellers?
1. If travelling in winter months bring lots of warm clothes, including slippers. 2. Bring lots of books and movies. 3. Take the initiative and ask questions about the center and the animals to learn about them.
Give Us Up To 10 Words That Sum Up Your Experience:
A rare experience which was much enjoyed.

We work in partnership with hundreds of established projects that are run by local communities. The information on our website comes directly from the projects and we work with them to ensure this information is as accurate as possible. However, due to the very nature of the projects themselves the exact details of what happens on a daily basis can change with little or no notice. If you have travelled with us and have any updates to this information, please let us know.