Buy a hug from a teenage panda in Chengdu

21st Oct 2013

Animal lovers mourning the loss of a hoped-for British baby panda can find solace in city breaks to China's metropolis of Chengdu.

Here, you can buy a hug off a teenage panda.

Edinburgh Zoo hoped the UK's first-ever panda cub would be born to its star attraction, Tian Tian.

But, following last week's loss late in Tian Tian's pregnancy, panda-loving holidaymakers on specialist tours can head east to Chengdu, home of the world's largest giant panda breeding centre.

Chengdu, more than 1,000 miles (1,609km) west of Shanghai, introduces the panda theme from the moment you step off the plane.

The city airport is packed with stuffed bears.

The 100-hectare Giant Panda Research Centre is just an hour's drive out of Chengdu.

Adult bears rest on their backs munching, while teenagers sandwiched between branches snooze soundly 10ft high (3m) in trees.

The enclosures' design means you can get as close to them as is safely possible.

A £150 donation buys visitors a hug with a teenage panda.

Aside from the pandas, Chengdu is called the "Land of Milk and Honey" because of its rich agricultural heritage.

It's also a fast-growing, sprawling, bustling city of more than 14 million people, popular with entrepreneurs and dense with skyscrapers.

Chengdu hosts the planet's largest building, the New Century Global Centre, which spans 1,700,000 sq m.

It features shopping malls, a Mediterranean village, an ice-skating rink, several hotels, and the world's biggest artificial beach.

Paradise Island Water Park creates the illusion of a top beach resort with its imported sand, combined with sunsets and sunrises via a wall of LED screens.

Chengdu, capital of the Sichuan district, is also famous for its mouthwatering spicy cuisine.

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