They’re black, white and Asian. Or at least that’s what the Internet says about them. It’s almost impossible to talk about animals native to China without thinking about the cuddly, often clumsy, and currently endangered species of bear known as giant pandas.
Interestingly, with so much effort being put into protecting and conserving the existence of these cute animals, giant pandas eventually began to attract quite a bit of fanfare wherever they may be, leading to many places in China turning panda conservation posts into tourist attractions. One such aforementioned location is Seac Pai Van Park in Macau.
An hour with the pandas
The main attraction at the park is undoubtedly the Giant Panda Pavilion which houses the two resident pandas of the park. The two bears are kept in wide, transparent enclosures within the pavilion, which attempts to mimic their natural habitat. Do bring along a jacket as the temperatures within the pavilion are kept low at all times.
The viewing pavilion is the only attraction within Seac Pai Van Park which requires an entry fee. For a small fee of 10 HKD (1.29 USD), visitors are allowed into the viewing pavilion for a maximum of one hour and are free to observe and take photos of the pandas.
The two pandas within the park are generally playful and curious by nature. So, with patience and a bit of luck, it is easy to spend the full hour within the pavilion observing and taking photos (no flash photography within the pavilion) of the pandas as they get up to their usual, playful antics. Be warned though that there will be occasional days when the pandas might decide to laze around and do nothing.
While the park itself is open until 6p.m. daily, the viewing pavilion closes at 5 in the evening. The best time to visit it is between 11a.m. - 12p.m. as that is when the pandas are fed and hence are most active. Do take note that the pavilion is closed between 1-2p.m. in the afternoon for cleaning.
More than just cuddly bears
While the giant pandas are the main attraction of the park, Seac Pai Van has more to offer than just two cuddly bears. As mentioned earlier, Seac Pai Van, whilst being a tourist attraction, is also an educational and conservation facility.
So naturally, there is an information centre about the conservation projects regarding giant pandas and a museum which showcases archaeological discoveries from Macau and a little bit of the history of the region. Both attractions offer free entry to park visitors.
The park may also be considered a miniature zoo as it also houses several other mammals such as lemurs and different species of primates. There is also a walk-in aviary which houses birds of all shapes and sizes and a lake of pink flamingos and other types of waterfowl. Of course, you are not allowed to feed or touch any of the animals due to safety purposes.
A beautiful place to relax and unwind
Nestled within wooded hills, Seac Pai Van Park is a lovely place for a relaxing stroll. Indeed, it’s not uncommon to run into locals who live in the nearby towns walking around in the park. The numerous flowerbeds and small botanical garden decorates the park with the colours of many medicinal and decorative flora, making any walk in the park a colourful and aesthetic affair.
There are also numerous statues (mostly of pandas) and scenic spots, making it an ideal place for photography sessions with friends or family. Indeed, the park seems to revolve around family time as there are also numerous park tables and benches set out throughout the location. Perfect for picnics and just hanging out with loved ones.
The park holds frequent events and activities for children in its information centre and also houses a small playground. For the more adventurous traveller, there is also a hiking trail which goes around the hill behind the park. It is a cooling route and it is not quite as tough as one might expect a hike to be.
Before going home, it wouldn’t hurt to stop by the souvenir gift shop (it is also the ticketing office for the viewing pavilion) and the snack shack which sells drinks and some light meals.
A must visit for those who love being close to nature
Seac Pai Van Park is a must-visit attraction for families, especially those with children. But it is not just for little kids and those who are young at heart. The park’s natural surroundings and scenic paths and trails means it checks off many agendas that would make nature-loving travellers spend quite a bit of time at the park.
All in all, Seac Pai Van Park is a worthwhile yet slightly underrated attraction in Macau not to be missed.
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