Mati Si, China: Temples in the Cliffs

We made it up to the far north of China, and are now in the Gansu Province which is home to some really cool stuff and things that are a bit off the beaten path in a country that just has a massive flow of domestic tourists.  From the town of Zhangye, we took a morning trip out to a really interesting system of Buddhist cave temples in an area called Mati Si.  Though we really came this way to see the Danxia Mountains, and Mati Si was a toss in, I was blow away by it all.  Not only are the cave temples really impressive, but the landscapes out in this province are unreal.  If this is what I can expect from Mongolia, I’m going to love that country.

Anyways, here’s a quick video shot “On Location” in Mati Si, China.

Getting to Mati Si

I’m honestly not sure if there’s a public bus that runs up this way.  If there is, my guess is it’s a bit of a pain to catch, especially if you’re trying to do a day trip.  In my opinion, the best thing to do is to hook on with one of the hostel’s tours that run each morning.  They’ll get you in a taxi round trip for 45 Yuan per person, not including entrance to the site.  The trip generally leaves at 8:30am and returns around 2pm.

Entrance Fees for Mati Si

The price for just the main grotto is 33 Yuan.  However, if you’re planning on checking out multiple spots, it’s best to purchase the package of 3 tickets which costs 70 Yuan.  It’s pretty good value considering what you’re seeing.  It’s an entrance fee I won’t complain about.

Photos of Mati Si

Of course, here are some of the photos from Mati Si.

Mati Si Entrance

The entrance gates to the Scenic Area

Mati Si

The doorway to the first Grotto in Horseshoe Temple

Mati Si

Buddhist statues carved into the walls of a cave

Mati Si Horseshoe Temple

The outside of Horseshow Temple

Mati Si Cave Temple

The awesome cave temples. Cool, right?!

Gansu Landscape

Some awesome landscapes out here as well.

Mati Si Prayer Flags

Love all the prayer flags surrounding the King’s Temple.

Mati Si Road

Nothing beats a nice curving road through a beautiful flandscape

Prayer Flags

Probably my favourite picture from the day. Love how this came out.

Mati Si

The last of the cave temples we visited.

Mati Si Cave Temple

A bit of an HDR shot of the temples.

Mati Si Monk

Managed to grab a portrait while there too.

Mati Si cliff temple

Love how the termples come right out of the cliffs

Mati Si Cliff Temple

Final shot. This place was amazing. Well worth the trip.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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6 Comments

  1. Outstanding Brendan! Thanks for the walk through with video. This experience looks mind blowing!!!

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    • My pleasure Tracey. Thanks for checking out the post and video.

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    • Shame Zoe, this part of the country is really interesting. A bit hard to get to, but between Mati Si, the Danxia Mountains, and bit of the Great Wall, there’s actually a lot to see and very few tourists.

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  2. Fab fotos as usual Brendan! Great to have the specs as well, by the way……but above all, how fantastic to have such a place nearly all to yourselves!! How rare that is these days of mass travel.

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    • Especially in China. Mass tourism in these parts is EXTREME. It was a breath of fresh air.

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