China pandas

China: Pandas and Environmental Preservation

A Smithsonian University Travel Program

In a country that’s home to a famously enormous population, protecting the earth is an effort of equally enormous proportion. See the remarkable things China is doing to rally around pandas and preserve important environmental resources, and meet with the people behind these efforts. This itinerary is part of the Smithsonian University Travel Programs collection, crafted by a team of experts from WorldStrides and Smithsonian, including the National Zoo, to provide a comprehensive look at environmentalism in the region and these remarkable creatures we’ve worked so hard to protect.


  • Scientific Name
    Pandas = Ailuropoda melanoleuca
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10 Days
Destinations Visited
Local Conditions
76℉ Current Temp
Current Time

Your Adventure, Day by Day

Day 1 Travel Day
  • Fly to Shanghai
Day 2 Arrive in Shanghai
  • Arrive in China Arrive in Shanghai late in the evening.
Day 3 Urban Waterways and Civic Engagement
  • Spotlight: Reclaiming the Edge Explore efforts to clean up Suzhou Creek, including a visit to formerly abandoned warehouses transformed into arts and culture spaces. Meet with the project manager overseeing the revitalization of the river and view a presentation from a scientist studying the water quality and ensuring the restoration of the waterway.
  • Spotlight: Sustainable Development Visit with a local business or organization, such as the UNEP-Tongji Institute, to learn about sustainable development efforts.
  • Welcome Dinner Enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine as a group.
Day 4 Shanghai City Tour
  • Shanghai Global Financial Center Begin your day tour of Shanghai's most important sites with the Shanghai Global Financial Center where a trip to the 100th floor will give you the best—and most dizzying—view in Shanghai.
  • Nanjing Road Stroll along Nanjing Road, China’s premier shopping street, which starts at The Bund in the east and ends in the west at the junction of Jingan Temple and Yan’an West Street. In addition to the brand-name stores, specialty shops still provide choice silk goods, jade, embroidery, wool, and clocks.
  • Jade Buddha Temple This temple is famous for its jade Buddha statues, which are pure white and very elegant. The construction of the pavilions and four halls; the Hall of the Heavenly Kings, the Grand Hall, the Reclining Buddha Hall, and the Jade Buddha Chamber are in the traditional style of the Song dynasty.
  • Jin Mao Tower Visit the Jin Mao Tower, which was built in 1998 as a Sino-American joint venture; it rises to 1,379 ft and blends traditional Chinese and modern Western tower designs. Take the Highspeed Elevator to the 88th floor to enjoy magnificent views of the city from the observation deck known as The Skywalk.
  • Yu Yuan Botanical Gardens Explore the Yu Gardens and Bazaar, a pleasant and well-contained classical Chinese garden. Built between 1559 and 1577, the Yu Yuan (meaning Garden of Peace and Comfort) is a maze of Ming Dynasty pavilions, elaborate rockeries, arched bridges, and goldfish ponds, all encircled by an undulating dragon wall.
  • French Concession Eat, stroll, and shop along Taikang Road at the former French concession before dinner with your friends at one of Shanghai’s many chic restaurants.
Day 5 Suzhou
  • Train to Suzhou The ancient city of Suzhou dates back to the 6th century BC and grew slowly until the creation of a large canal brought prosperity in the silk trade. During the Ming Dynasty, the city flourished as a place of refinement, drawing scholars and merchants who built the elegant houses and gardens that are now open to the public.
  • Spotlight: Taihu Lake National Wetland Park Meet with city planners at Suzhou Wetland Conservation and Management Station to understand how they are prioritizing wetland conservation. Visit a project site to see the work that has been done to preserve green areas.
  • Return to Shanghai
Day 6 Travel to Chengdu
  • Fly to Chengdu The mountain resort of Chengdu was founded by the Kangxi emperor in 1703 as a place where the Manchu nobility could escape the Forbidden City. The fantastic summer palace and eight temples are set in a river valley surrounded by mountains, ensuring a strategically secure and relaxing destination.
  • Special Access: National Zoological Park (Chengdu Panda Base) The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (for short, the Chengdu Panda Base) is a non-profit organization engaged in wildlife research, captive breeding, conservation education, and educational tourism. Meet with a local scientist and learn about the Giant Panda’s Environment and what is being done to preserve it. Walk with a scientist through the park.
Day 7 Chengdu Panda Base
  • Special Access: National Zoological Park (Chengdu Panda Base) Continue your time at the Chengdu Panda Base for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Chengdu Panda enclosures, work in a lab and have lunch with researchers, and hear a lecture about the Red Pandas.
Day 8 School or Service?
  • Expert Access: Sichuan Forestry Department Meet with officials and learn how they are working to preserve the Giant Panda Habitat.
  • School Visit or Service Learning Visit a local school and learn about grass roots environmental education programs. See how the next generation is taking steps to ensure the future of their local, national, and global environment or work alongside Forestry Department staff and volunteers on an environmental preservation project.
Day 9 Free Morning/Travel Home
  • Explore Chengdu Spend a free morning exploring Chengdu.
  • Depart China Fly home.

A China Check-in from CEO Jim Hall

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  Earlier this month, I spent some time at the WorldStrides Shanghai office. Though China is a world away from our WorldStrides headquarters in Charlottesville, Virginia, our goal remains the same: to enhance students’ lives through educational travel. Every time I travel to the Far…

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