Mati Si Cliff Temple
Final shot. This place was amazing. Well worth the trip.

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.

Getting to Mati Si, China

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.

Mati Si Entrance
The entrance gates to the Mari Si Scenic Area

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.

Mati Si
The doorway to the first Grotto in Horseshoe Temple

Photos of Mati Si

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

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.
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.

Thoughts on Mati Si as a photographer

As I kind of alluded to in the intro, our visit to Mati Si was almost just as a way to fill a day between other photography locations. But, it was definitely worth a visit.

That said, one of the things I’ve been struggling with in China as a photographer is that most of the best places for photography in the country are closed for sunrise and sunset. I would love to be in here photographing this location during the golden hour, but it’s just not possible.

Thankfully, Mati Si looks pretty stunning in the middle of the day, too.