When researching things to do in Hong Kong, one suggestion I stumbled across was to do a day trip across to Macau. Macau, similar to Hong Kong, is also a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. It is famous for being the “Vegas of Asia” as it is chocabloc full of casinos. However one of the main things that drew me into visiting was the Giant Panda Pavillion they have there, which houses – you guessed it – giant pandas! Being the world’s biggest animal lover and having never properly had the chance to watch Pandas in person before, this was something I HAD to do, and to do it in kind-of-China where they originate would be amazing.
To get to Macau from Hong Kong you need to grab a fast ferry across, which takes roughly an hour. I booked online the day before with Cotai Water Jet to go from the Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal to Taipa Ferry Terminal in Macau. When you get to the ferry terminal it is exactly like an airport. You have to go through immigration and show your passport etc, as obviously you are technically leaving the “country” and arriving in a new “country”. They also have duty free shops and all sorts!
Once arriving in Macau you again go through immigration passport control and then you’re out! Because this is casino country they have hundreds of free shuttle buses that take you straight from the ferry terminal to various different casinos. So I jumped on one of those headed to Studio City (as it was the closest to the Panda Pavillion) and then grabbed a taxi from there to the Pandas. Trying to explain to the taxi driver where I wanted to go was fun, as he spoke zero English and had no idea what I was saying. I did not know the Chinese word for Panda whatsoever (it is 熊猫 Xióngmāo, I now know) so when repeating “Pandas” over and over again didn’t do the trick, the casino concierge said to show him a photo of a panda, which I did, and as soon as he saw it he was like “ahhh!” and knew where I wanted to go – thankfully!
Macau Giant Panda Pavillion is located in Seac Pai Van Park, where there are lots of other animal enclosures that you can visit for free before seeing the Pandas.
They had Flamingos, Gibbons, Macaques, Spider Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys, Lemurs and even Golden Snub Nosed Monkeys – which I had never seen before! (Google what their babies look like if you want to cry due to cuteness overload). They were all beautiful and very active. One thing I did note though was that their enclosures were a little on the small side – they were very green and had lots of climbing material and plants etc, but I would have liked them to be a bit bigger!
To get access to the Giant Pandas you have to pay a measly 10 Hong Kong dollars at the welcome centre to get a ticket, which is just under £1 – so nothing really! And it all goes back into helping the pandas. Well worth it!
You get a scheduled time to go into the Panda enclosure and once inside you can stay for up to an hour to watch/photograph them. I had a little bit of a wait until my time so I grabbed a chicken wing and a drink from the little cafe there, which did not look very appetising, but was actually pretty yummy!
When I rounded the corner and saw them for the first time it was wonderful. They are so beautiful it’s unreal! There were 3 of them in there when I went and they were all being lovely and lazy chewing on their bamboo. Their enclosure is pretty big, with lots of plants and waterfalls for them to roam around.
I have decided that, along with the Sloth, Pandas are my new spirit animal. When they’re eating (which is pretty much what they did for the entire duration I was in there!) they sort of lean back against the rocks, with the bamboo on their tummies and they close their eyes whilst they’re chewing! Expressions of pure bliss on their gorgeous faces, enjoying every moment ha. They are so clumsy as well, it made me laugh how “bumbly” they are, one of them tried to climb on the rocks to get some bamboo from the pile and just kind of slipped and fell down, but they look so unbothered and chilled in everything they do. I just love them, they are a wonderful combination of hilarious and cute all rolled into one giant ball of black and white fluff.
Around the park they have big sign boards with information on about Pandas that were all pretty interesting. I learnt that every day they eat for about 12 hours, getting through up to 12kg of bamboo! Insane! Explains why they were eating non-stop the whole hour I was watching them! Unlike most other bears they also have no need to hibernate, instead when winter approaches they just head down lower in the mountains and continue to chomp on their bamboo (“the cold never bothered me anyway” *chomps bamboo with eyes closed*). Of course we all know that Pandas are very sadly endangered – hence being used as the famous WWF logo. There are only an estimated 1,000 Giant Pandas left in the wild in China, which is devastating and exactly why we need to do everything we can to protect them!
I also saw a little video in the information centre of Pandas when they were born. They literally look like tiny, pink mice, it is so strange! You most definitely would not think it was a baby Panda if you stumbled across one!
Once finished in the Giant Panda enclosure I had a little look around at the Red Pandas which I had also never seen in person before. Oh my gosh, they are the cutest things ever. Again I felt a bit bad for them as their enclosures were pretty small too, as pretty as they were. They were also by themselves in each enclosure, but they are naturally solitary animals so I guess this is okay. One of them was curled up in a tree asleep, the other one was walking around its enclosure picking up twigs! I know this sounds really strange, but both species of panda actually have almond shaped eyes just like the people in China – you can really tell they originate from the far east!
I would definitely recommend visiting the Giant Panda Pavillion if you are ever in Macau to take in the pure beauty of the Giant Pandas the Red Pandas and all of the other unusual and rare, beautiful animals they have here!