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All reviews absolute panda these guys panda base arranged everything sichuan opera natural habitat panda bears chinese culture an amazing experience face changing philip wildlife bella adventure companies company itinerary
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Reviewed May 21, 2013

My father and I made a quick trip to Chengdu to see the Pandas; from the first time I contacted Absolute Panda, they were responsive and accommodating. Philip who usually conducts tours was not available for our date but he arranged Helena to take us on our tour in his place. Lilly & Philip carefully explained the plan for the day and promptly answered all my (many!) questions. One the day of the tour, I went to the lobby of my hotel and Helena was waiting for us. There was also a driver in a very clean car stocked with snacks and bottled water.

Helena actually works at the Panda base (and has since the base opened), so she was an expert on which viewing areas we should head to first v. later in the day. She also answered all our questions and told us tons of information about the base and the adorable pandas!

More over, we had a delicious lunch at a local restaurant and had wonderful conversation about Chinese life and cultural. After our time exploring some local city sights, Helena and the driver generously brought us directly to the airport for our flight. The people at Absolute Panda made Chengdu my favorite city on my 10 day trip to China. Thank you!

Date of experience: May 2013
4  Thank annemariev460
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 3, 2013

My husband and I wanted to visit a specific, remote region of the Qinling Mountains, hiking, birding and exploring traditional villages. We contacted Absolute Panda and received an immediate, enthusiastic response from Philip, our guide and the founder of the company. Right away, he asked several questions about our priorities and our abilities, and promised to cater a trip within our budget. Over the course of several months, he was in touch often, updating us on his research of the area, asking questions about preferences, and alerting us to possible inconveniences along the way (such as there being no toilet facilities, permit restrictions, etc.). It was very clear that he wanted this trip to be the best for us that it could be.
And it was! From the moment we arrived at the airport, Philip was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable. He scouted the area before we arrived and established relationships with villagers that made all the difference. For a week, he showed us a region that few foreigners have seen and was so attuned to our experience, that he made several adjustments without us even having to ask. In this way, within a day, he was able to perceive the balance of hiking and birding that we preferred. He was also very cautious as a baseline, but willing to be adventurous when we wanted to be. He dealt easily and effectively with the inevitable quarrelsome officials, and was a tireless, wonderful translator as we weaved our way from village to village, asking questions and sharing meals with villagers.
What really makes Philip and Absolute Panda stand apart from other great tour services, is their perception of travelers’ needs and flexibility. Philip could tell from early on that my husband and I were very adventurous and willing to stray from the detailed itinerary he had sent beforehand if unique opportunities arose. In this way, he suggested small alterations, such as a visit to a local sorghum vinegar factory and an evening making dumplings with a village family, that proved to be highlights of the trip. And I know that if we were the type of people who wanted to stick strictly with the itinerary, he would have done so, happily.
Philip certainly knows his birds, and moves so easily between the roles of birding expert, hiking guide, translator and trip manager. He was an equally wonderful guide to the city, showing us X’ian for a day and even treating us to a blind massage in the Muslim Quarter after days of roughing it in the mountains. All the staff he hired along the way (drivers, hosts, local guides) were competent, lovely people, all of whom we remember fondly. Four months after our trip, we still miss Philip, as a guide and friend, and are hoping to take another trip with him soon. We know that wherever we choose, he’ll make it fantastic.

Date of experience: September 2012
4  Thank ZumaZelig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 20, 2013

After reading trip advisor and getting a recommendation from a colleague, I booked a trip with Philip and Absolute Panda. It is the best trip and experience I have ever had with a tour group. Philip really personalizes your trip and provides great suggestions per your requests. His expertise and knowledge about the pandas was exceptional. We were one of the first people in the park as he had bought the tickets ahead of time. I was also able to be the first to sign up to spend several minutes petting a panda (well worth the additional 2000 RMB). It was definitely a highlight. They also only allow 20 people a day to handle the pandas so getting their early is a must and Philip knew exactly where to go to ensure I was able to book a spot with the panda for later in the morning.

After the Pandas, we took a trip to the ancient town of Luodai and ate at a local eatery. It was nice to experience some of the favorite foods in Sichuan and not be at a typical tourist restaurant. The shopping was great and very affordable and it appeared that I was the only tourist there. We also visited Jinli market which is a replica of a Han Dynasty (2000 years ago). It was beautifully decorated for the upcoming Chinese New Year or Spring Festival. The day was topped off by the Sichuan Opera which offered many skits including the famous face changing, folk music, opera singing, dancing and marionettes.

Philip is also an excellent photographer and shared all his photos he took during our tour. In addition, because his camera was so much better than mine we used his camera for the Panda Research staff to take photos of me and the panda Shuang Xin (age 1 year 4 months).

Please take advantage of visiting Chengdu when you are either in Beijing or Shanghai as it is a short flight from either city. Philip and Absolute Panda are highly recommended and I plan to fly back and book his tour company to visit Jiuzhaigou as well as the other panda base. Philip's knowledge and pricing for what you get in an experience can not be beat. Thank you Absolute Panda!!

Date of experience: January 2013
5  Thank kkmixalot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 30, 2012

Having just returned from a three day trip to Chengdu, China using Absolute Panda as our tour Guide I am compelled to write this review. Philip and Bruce, our tour guide, were outstanding in their knowledge, support and attention to detail. Everything, down to the final details, were planned meticulously. We visited the Research Panda Base, enjoyed the "Changing Faces" Show, went down the old lanes and alleyways and parks and had great fun with our Sichuan cookery lesson from Mama, (Philip"s mum). The whole team gave that "personal touch" to our trip and we would not have seen half as much if we had guided ourselves. They have convinced us that using the services of a tour guide is essential if you want to see the best a place has to offer. Wholly recommend Absolute Panda. Thank you so much for all you did for us.

Date of experience: December 2012
2  Thank Camaz1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 1, 2012

I returned to China in September with my friend and China travel companion, Rick. We had asked Philip to set up a trip into the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan that would really show us Tibetan culture and some beautiful places most Westerners don't see. We had a wonderful 22 day trip with stops in Yading, Hounglong and Jiuzhaigou National Parks, and many small villages and towns along the way. We managed to see many monasteries, meet and talk with local monks and villagers and do a lot of photography, a passion of both us and Philip. Having a car and driver allowed us flexibility that one would not have on a larger tour. And again, Philip's knowledge and willingness to work with us made the trip.

Date of experience: October 2012
3  Thank Steve Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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