Today we went and got five "Panda Cards" for each member of our family and my mother who is visiting from Sweden. They only cost 1 yuan a piece. We had to show our passports, but didn't need to do anything else. We got Gold Cards (there are silver cards too) that supposedly allow us free entry to eleven tourist spots in and around Chengdu. The cards are good until the end of the year. As yet I don't know if we can use them for multiple entry or for one entry only to each site. But even one entry is a considerable saving for a family of five. We got our cards at a local Hongqi store but they are available all over the city, at the airport, at tourist sites etc . In addition to this card many tourist sights in Chengdu will be open to all for free on the anniversary of the May 12th Earthquake. During the month of May tourists sights will also be heavily discounted.
Information from the Sichuan Government website:
Chengdu Issues 20 Million “Panda Cards” of Tourist Consumption
Chengdu, for the first time, issued tourist consumption cards——“panda cards” to domestic visitors on Mar 24. From Mar. 24 to Dec. 31 this year, 11 key state-owned scenic spots in Chengdu will provide free or discounted entrance to card holders. “Panda cards” have two kinds: “gold panda cards” and “silver panda cards”. “Gold panda card” holders enjoy free entrance to the 11 scenic spots in Chengdu while “silver panda card” holders enjoy 50% discount. These 11 scenic spots are: Dujiang Dam, Mount Qingcheng, Xiling Snow Mountain, ski resort on Xiling Snow Mountain, Wuhou Temple, Du Fu’s Thatched Cottage, Jinsha Site Museum, Yongling Mausoleum Museum, Giant Panda Breeding Base, Liu’s Manor and Mount Tiantai.
As planned, Chengdu will issue 15 million “gold panda cards” to tourists from other provinces as well as 5 million “silver panda cards” to tourists from within the province. It is preliminarily calculated that the sum of the entrance charge for the 11 scenic spots amounts to 708 yuan, and it is estimated that the discounted and exempted sum of the entrance fee will reach over 12 billion yuan in total for the whole year. Yesterday Chengdu issued “panda cards” to more than 10 representatives at the National Sugar and Wine Trade Fair, and 500,000 “panda cards” to the club members of Southwest Airline of Air China.
For the convenience of tourists to apply for “panda cards”, Chengdu identified 10 ways for issuance, including cooperation with tourist departments of other cities in China in issuing cards; distribution by the Airlines to their members; issuing at the commercial bank branches and offices; downloading from the website or printing temporary electronic cards and converting them to real cards in Chengdu; and issuing cards at the airport, train stations, expressway entrances in Chengdu as well as gates of scenic spots.
Apart from the reduction or exemption of entrance fees, “panda card” also has the following functions:
“Preferential discount”: card holders will enjoy the discount in the member units of “Best Travel Alliances”, which has currently attracted more than 300 tourism-related enterprises within Sichuan as their members.
“Recharge”: card holders can recharge cards for use in the member units of “Best Travel Alliances”; and
“Point collection”: card holders can be rewarded with points according to the sum of money spent with the cards, and the collection of points will bring prizes or gifts.