Let’s face it, who doesn’t love pandas? Those most cuddly and cantankerous of creatures have long been the face of the World Wildlife Fund, not only because they’ve been near extinction, but also because they are unfathomably cute.
Pandas are most abundant in Sichuan Province, China, so if you’re bonkers about the bears, take a trip to Chengdu. Not only does this sprawling metropolis have its own research base, it’s also within striking distance of several others, including Dujiangyan. Here, you can even volunteer to be a panda keeper for the day, with the ultimate for any fan – a cuddle with one of them – available for a Dhs1,000 donation.
Although the city is best known as the home of pandas, there are plenty of other attractions to keep you busy, with travel a doddle thanks the metro system and hugely cheap taxis. A trip to Du Fu’s Thatched Cottage, the former home of one of China’s most celebrated poets, is a fantastic cultural experience. Base yourself in the fantastic five-star Kempinski Chengdu and you’ll be right in the heart of the action. And don’t leave before sampling the local hot pot – just make sure you can stand the heat.
Etihad Airways flies direct to Chengdu from Abu Dhabi Dhs1,670 (including coach transfers from Dubai). www.etihad.com.