Matisi Travel Guide

  • Sculpted apsaras - you don't see this at Dunhuang!
    Sculpted apsaras - you don't see this at...
    by mke1963
  • The temple and caves at the village
    The temple and caves at the village
    by mke1963
  • Qilianshan from Matisi village temple
    Qilianshan from Matisi village temple
    by mke1963

Matisi Things to Do

  • Qianfodong

    The Thousand Buddha Caves are just inside the entrance gateway to the Matisi Scenic Area, and walking up the road is a pleasant experience, with the river rushing past on one side, and the decaying niches studding the cliffface on the other.There are 8 caves here, of a similar age and style as at Matisi Bei up the valley. The temple and small...

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  • Matisi Nan - Matisi South Caves

    Just above the Shengguo Temple, and clearly visible from Mati village are the Matisi Nankou, the southern Matisi Caves. Although impressive from the valley floor, there is less to see at the Matisi Nan site (there are no caves here, compared to the 9 caves at Matisi Bei, which is about 1.5km away along the track that runs past the base of the...

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  • Matisi Bei - Matisi North Caves - Part...

    Just south of the main temple building compound are a series of caves not normally open to the public, but it might be possible - by begging..or perhaps even by asking at the administrative offices in the village - to get a quick glimpse. Some 20km south of the vilage is the site of a Tibetan monastery, Jintasi (see separet review). Unfortunately...

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  • Matisi Bei - Matisi North Caves - Part I

    The main attraction at Matisi are the grottos and caves which date back to the Northern Wei period and continue through 1,000 years of Buddhist inhabitation and devotion in this area.NOTE: The whole cave area is closed to visitors during 2005 and will reopen in mid 2006. If it is important to see them, contact Gansu, Zhangye or Matisi Culutral...

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  • Shengguo Tibetan Temple

    Originally constructed in the 1920s, the Tibetan Yellow Hat sect Shenguo Temple lies in a tiny cleft in the valley above Matisi Village on the track up to the Matisi Bei temple and caves.It was largely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution (as was the better known Jinta Monastery, 25km away to the south east) and is being repaired with...

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  • Local museum

    Above the village shop (in the modern row of buildings at the top end) is a small museum which explains the history of the area. It is a modern museum with good labelling (albeit mainly in Chinese) and is worth visiting for 30 minutes. There is a god display of traditional Yugur and Tibetan clothing as well.

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Matisi Restaurants

  • by mke1963 Updated Apr 23, 2006

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    There are eleven restaurants around the village and up the main valley, and all focus on the local Yugur and especially Tibetan cuisine, which includes a lot of Tibetan tea with butter, cheese and flour mixed in. As Matisi already attracts tourists in good numbers, some of the restaurants have been developed as entertainment centres and include dancing, remember that this provides much needed local employment for young people. One of the local dance troupes performs Yugur, Tibetan and even Mongolian dances in other cities of the province.

    The immediate surroundings of the eleven restaurant tents is scruffy, but this is all being cleaned up in 2006.

    Favorite Dish: The baked mutton which just falls off the bone.

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Matisi Transportation

  • by mke1963 Updated Apr 23, 2006

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    There are occasional buses from Zhangye to villages near Matisi, but it is probably easiest to hire a taxi for the entire day (RMB150) if you are returning to Zhangye. If you are staying overnight, arrange for a driver to come back. Hitchhiking is not recommended as the traffic is light.

    However, there seem to be a good number of visitors by car to Matisi, so hitching may be possible on the way back.

    During the peak summer season there is one bus that departs from Zhangye for Matisi each day for visitors. There are three buses from Matisi to Zhangye each day, but they leave early in the morning, returning to Mati village around 2pm, so not much use for the whole day.

    The tourism authorities haven't yet made the arrangements for the daily tourist bus in 2006, so ask at the hotel in Zhangye when you arrive.

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Matisi Shopping

  • by mke1963 Updated Apr 23, 2006

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    At the top of the line of new (empty) shops, the final shop does stock food and some souvenirs of the area. However, the range of items is very limited and you should aim to bring whatever you need with you.

    The items shown in the photograph - small soft toys, and the Yugur cothing - is made by local households within Sunan County, if you wish to support local businesses! Most other items on sale come from far and wide.

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Matisi Off The Beaten Path

  • 4 more images

    by mke1963 Updated Apr 23, 2006

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    The Jinta Caves are strictly off-limits and lie well to the southeast of the main Matisi complex. However, if you are a researcher (possibly with links through CASS or the Dunhuang Academy) or make prior arrangements (i.e. before coming to China), a visit may be possible in summer. The valley is inaccessible from about November through to May because of snow.

    The site is a series of three caves high up on the cliff face, above the remains of a destroyed Tibetan monastery. (If you are looking for the monastery, don't bother....long gone, although some bricks remain where the car parks).

    The scultures and frescos are staggering, easily matching the best at Dunhuang or Maijishan. However, the ligthig is poor so you will need a flashlight. There is simply too much to describe in these small caves. There are believed to be five layers of frescos. The significance of this site is such that two researchers who stole several pieces received the death penalty just a few years ago.

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Matisi Favorites

  • Tour guides - please use them!

    Many travellers and tourists prefer to explore on their own, but please also consider the impact thishas on the local economy.In the example of Matisi, the tour guides are mainly from the Tibetan and Yugur minorities and are mainly young. Tourism is one of the few - if not the only - opportunity to provide decent wages that meet the expectations of...

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  • Feed the piglet

    While exploring Matisi, I stumbled upon a cute little piglet. Must be his/her owner tied he/she here nearby where they stay. I gave he/she some bread to eat. After eating, I try to pat his/her head but almost got bitten, probably came too sudden.

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  • THIS IS ME AT MATISI

    In our favourite VT-miscellaneous-forum, 'THIS IS ME AT XXX' is one of the heatest topic. Some peoples' tips contained only a mere one line of writings has been constantly criticized as meaningless tips or bad. Bearing that in mind, I try not to write tips with just a line, to do that, I dump in a lot, a lot of writings. The concept of good tips is...

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