Maiji Shan Caves
Maiji Shan Caves
4.5
Historic SitesCaverns & CavesReligious Sites
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Best nearby
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3 within 6 miles

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.


4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles126 reviews
Excellent
79
Very good
43
Average
4
Poor
0
Terrible
0

howardxp1
New York City, NY422 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2023 • Couples
Firstly, don’t think of these as caves. For some reason, these “cutouts” in the mountain are called caves everywhere in China. They are just hollowed out holes with carvings of different Buddha statues in them. They also call them “grottos”.

The stairs that take you up the face of the mountain is the fun part for me! It must’ve taken decades to carve out all the Buddha’s especially the big ones!

Best thing is to go during the week, otherwise the lines will make you feel like a sardine packed in a can. Earlier is better as it can get so crowded.
Written October 28, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Steve B
China207 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
First time I went two years ago we were dropped off at the foot of the mountain. The climb killed me. This time we were independent. Despite taking the bus from the entrance we were still left with a mountain to climb before getting to the mountain!

Fitness and health are all in this endeavour. Allow at least two hours from drop off at the entrance to getting back to your taxi or whatever.
Written January 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

gregsf11
San Francisco, CA831 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2012 • Solo
This is one of China's 3 major ancient Buddhist grottoes. It's every bit as ancient as the Yungang Grottoes, and I found it even more spectacular because of the setting, high up on a vertical cliff face, connected by a latticework of staircases attached to the cliff wall. And you won't find it on the itinerary of any organized tour that I know of. All the better, I say. You won't exactly have it to yourself (this is China after all), but it's not overrun either. Actually, up high on the cliff, I pretty much did have the place to myself for much of the time. And not a single western tourist in sight.

The views are amazing; I was a little bummed about the light rain when I was there, and the fog partially obscuring the views. But the mist just made it even more beautiful and mysterious. You could still see that it was a very long way down to the ground if you happen to slip. Not that it was likely, because there are actually railings on the stairs here.

There are also opportunities for hiking, and a visit to a nearby monastery. But I had to skip that because I only had one day. Most people will tell you that you shouldn't attempt to do MaijiShan as a day trip from Xi'an, but if you plan carefully, it can be done. I only had one day, so I needed to make sure it worked, because I didn't want to be in Xi'an, so close to a place this spectacular, and not see it. Here's what I did to make it fit into one comfortable day trip:

Plan ahead with train connections from Xi'an. Buy those tickets 10 or 12 days out, whatever it allows. Buy them on line and have them delivered. Or just get them in China as I did, but don't wait till the last few days. You're going to want your pick of trains, because some take 3 hours and some take 4-5 to make that trip. And you want to get an early start. A 3 hr train that leaves before 8AM is ideal. And don't fall asleep too much, because on the way, the train passes through tunnel after tunnel, in between views of valleys and villages.

When you get to the train station it's the usual Chinese zoo -a bit intimidating if you can't speak a word of Chinese. The Guidebook says there's a minibus #34 that takes you almost to MaijiShan, from where you take a local cab, yadda yadda. I figured, this is the point where you don't want to waste time or quibble about a few bucks -not when you have to do it in a day. Using a calculator and notepad, I negotiated for one of the many predatory taxi drivers to take me there, wait a couple hours, and take me back. I just wrote the times I wanted to be in each location -here(Tianshui), MaijiShan, back to here (Tianshui), and it was understood. Price: I overpaid at 180 Y. I could probably have gotten it for 120, but whatever.

He drove me right up to the entrance. From the ticket entrance, they also run a shuttle to save you a couple kilometers walk. Well worth it. It's cheap and the walk would have been boring. Once at the site, however, it's anything but boring. You only need a couple hours, but this two hours was well worth the whole day for this.

Now getting back is a bit of an issue by train. See, trains out of Xi'an are easy to come by (relatively -still plan ahead), but trains back -especially from a minor village of half a million people like Tianshui -it's pretty next to impossible to snag a seat. There are also busses. They take 5-6 hrs, and the station is in a completely different part of town than the train.

Fortunately, there are flights back to Xi'an, even from a place like this. Not every day, though, so I did the trip on a day when there was a good 1 hr, 5PM flight back to Xi'an. Perfect. Faster than the train and back in Xi'an for dinner! Or at least that was the plan when I booked it. Trains in China generally run on time, but domestic flights may not. As it happened, the delay was only about an hour, and it still wound up being faster than the train.

Total price for the entire day including all transport costs and admission fees: less than 100 USD. Well worth it!
Written October 6, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Liu Y
Xi'an, China242 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2016 • Business
MaiJiShan Grottoes is one of the most famous Buddhist heritage in China, Many visitors are impressed by this site. But the way to get into MaiJiShan is usually time-consuming, It is located to West of Xi'an, and to the East of LanZhou. But from early July 2017, the bullet train will be open from Xi'an to LanZhou, en route, it will stop at TianShui where visitors may disembark the train to visit the MaiJiShan Grottoes.

It will be only three hours on the bullet train ride then to reach it from Xi;an. and continue to head to LanZhou on the Silk Road Trip.
Written February 17, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Skylyn9
31 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2015
We went to Maji Shan in the afternoon after arriving from the train station. Bus number 34 (5CNY) to the right when you get out of the train station brings you there in about 45 minutes. There is a sign at the station directing you to the bus. It's the last stop of the line.
Entrance ticket is 70 CNY and 15 CNY (return) for the electic car to the actual site. It is a long walk up.
The way up is full of souvenir shops.
The mountain is beautiful. At the begining you can find English description of certain caves.
The way up the mountain is only one direction, so make sure you take the time to look well before moving forward. The steps are steep. Don't look down! It's a bit scary.
The carvings and paintings are amazing. And the views of the mountains around!
On the way back to town, wait for the bus where it drops you off. The bus leaves once it's relatively full.
Written June 4, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

YorkHiker
Yorkshire, UK1,390 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2015 • Solo
Maiji Shan is a famous five star attraction, no doubt about that. So I'll let people know about the hike from Maiji Shan to Xiang Ji Temple (as in Lonely Planet) instead.

Before the hike, it's worth considering walking to the Botanical Gardens and veering left behind the first toilets. Here there is a path to a cliff edge view point with good views of Maiji Shan. Beware, this is not for the faint hearted as there are sheer drops on either side of a small path.

You can see Xiang Ji temple near the top of the opposite green hill. I've uploaded photos of the hill. To get to Xiang Ji Shan and Temple walk to where all the shops are at Maiji Shan, there is a sign for Xiang Ji and a crappy map. Take a photo of the map! This is the last time you will see a sign for Xiang ji Shan. Follow the dirt path down towards some buildings for over 2km. When the road turns to concrete and turns to the right, don't follow the road. Instead follow the river.

The path along the river is very over grown and is crumbling and falling down. After about 1km the river path dissapears, and you can see large concrete slabs going to the right and up into the hills. Follow this concrete slap path for around 40 minutes. Careful as many slabs are missing.

You will reach a sheer cliff wall and cave. There is a danger of rock fall here. The path goes right and climbs steeply towards a cave. Before the cave is a huge rock fall blocking the path. You can go under or over this. This area is intimidating. I have uploaded photos.

At the cave do a u-turn and go back down the path. Take a dirt path off te concrete steps to the left. After 2 minutes you will reach the temple and the temple guardians house. He has loud dogs, but they don't bite. The temple guardian said he seldom has visitors, and gave me food and hot tea. I tried to give him money, but he wouldn't accept. A very nice man. From here these are the first, and great views you will have Maiji Shan. You will have views of Maiji Shan the whole way down.

To get back to Maiji Shan don't back track. Instead walk from the temple down a diagonal dirt path. You can see a road in a distance. It's very obvious how to get to Maiji Shan. Save my photos on your phone if you need guidance.

Maiji Shan has massive crowds. This hike took me over two hours, and I didn't see one other soul except the temple guardian. This is wild hiking. It is dangerous in places, so I don't recommend hiking alone. If you make it to the cave, you are very close to the temple, so don't give up and find that path!
Written November 19, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

kisaDC
Washington, DC92 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2015 • Friends
This is absolutely a world class site. Because of its relative remoteness - Western tourists are few and far between - at least in May. It is popular with the Chinese tourists, however, and this does not surprise me in the least - it is everything it is cracked up to be, and more.
We have been told that there are some tour buses arriving in late morning during peak season. We hardly saw any in May.

We traveled with a private guide and driver, and spent the night in the next door Arboretum Hotel - which is an interesting little gem in itself. Yes, it is at least 4 hours away from Xi'an one way; and possibly even more if you hit the traffic - which we surprisingly did. Despite this - we enjoyed what we thought was pretty scenic and interesting ride. Even though we chose not to do this - it is possible to stop mid-way in Baoji, and see some sites there.

Overall: if you are in the area - not to be missed. If you are within a few hours' travel - my recommendation is to give this a serious consideration.
Don't be scared by the steps - it is quite doable by anyone, even folks in below average physical shape.
Written June 4, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

KIM8899
London46 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2014 • Friends
We visited this as a day trip from Xi'an. It was one of the most beautiful places we saw in China during our two week trip. The grottoes were well preserved and colourful. Some of them are closed, but you can still see a lot. And it's very well worth the visit. It's much less touristy and fairly quiet for China. We were very glad we came here.

It's perfectly doable in one day from Xi'an. You need to book tickets in advance online to get the best option. The shortest train ride is about 3 hours to and starts around 8 am. You need to go to Tianshui and then take a bus 34. It's very well sign posted. You can see the sign pointing to the bus stop as soon as you get out of the train station. Bus ride takes about an hour and your stop is the last stop. Bus stops near the ticket office from there you can take electric car to get to the foot of the Maiji hill. It's worth taking electric car as the walk could take an hour or so.
To see the grottoes takes about two hours + some time to take pictures from dedicated spots. The route is organized one way, so bear in mind that you won't be able to go back.

To go back to Xi'an I booked a train at around 8pm, but really 6pm would have been better as we had too much time and would have preferred to come back earlier to Xi'an.

The other thing to be said about this part of the World, that local people are not very used to tourists here and most of them have never seen white people before! Thought the day we noticed, that everyone was staring at us and numerous times we have been asked to take pictures with locals. It was a very interesting and you can experience in one day how it feels to be celebrity!

We also had a very lucky and great experience with the local restaurant. As soon as we decided that it will be hopeless to find a place were we could eat and order anything, we came across one restaurant not far from the train station ( on the right if you face city from the train station entrance). The restaurant had English name, not sure what was it. One of the staff could speak good English and we were very well served with very good quality and tasty food which was very good value for money.

All in all very good day trip which I highly recommend.
Written July 19, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Gary, Australia
China79 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2020
I visited Maijishan Grottos in December 2020 as I wanted to see the area in snow and avoid the huge summer crowds. I have visited hundreds of places in China (an Australian working in Guangzhou) and this is undoubtedly one of my top 3 favourites. I think ‘grottos’ is a more apt name than caves as the openings in the cliff face are quite small. Maijishan is one of the four famous grottos of China, the others being Mogao, Yungang, and Longmen – all in different provinces. One does not have to be a Buddhist, or even spiritual to appreciate the awesomeness, craftsmanship and cultural value of these grottos. The eagle-eyed will see an evolution of styles spanning the dynasties and centuries.
Visiting Maijishan needs preparation and some of the information I found on websites seems now to be incorrect. I flew from Guangzhou to Lanzhou for a week. I took a taxi from my hotel to Lanzhou West Train Station; then caught the high speed train from Lanzhou West Station at 7.05am and arriving at Tianshui South Station at 8.33am (159RMB for 1st class ticket one way). I walked to the far end of the station and descended two escalators to the bus station in the basement. I waited about 40 minutes and caught BUS 60 to the entrance of the Maijishan site. Bus 60 is a tourist shuttle bus costing 7 RMB each way. I think there are only 2 morning buses in winter but more in other seasons. Once arriving at the site, pay 80RMB to enter, then choose to walk to Maiji Mountain (It took me 20 minutes walking briskly uphill along a road) or take a small electric vehicle (there will be a small charge). Walk up a steep set of stone stairs to the second admission gate. Here you just show your ticket and enter OR pay extra for a private tour in which extra grottos will be open for viewing. I chose not to have a private tour as it was a minimum of 600 RMB per grotto and in winter, there are no English-speaking guides. I caught the 2pm shuttle bus back to the station, and then the 4.05pm high speed train to Lanzhou. By 6.30pm I was sipping craft beers near the Zhengning Night Market and editing my photos.
I was totally amazed at the technology of the ‘out-of-cliff walkways’ (totally safe I think), the view of the valleys and mountains, and of course the hundreds of Buddha-clad grottos. Most of the grottos are protected by metal gauze; however, I placed my iPhone camera in a gap and took oodles of great photos. I also had a downloaded guide of the grottos and read this beforehand. There are a few larger, gauzeless grottos open all the time, and these had amazing sculptures and murals depicting a thousand years of evolving Buddhist history. I won’t provide any details of the sculptures as I think these need to be discovered.
A few tips if travelling privately from Lanzhou:
# Best to use the high speed train – forget slow trains and buses as these leave little time to explore the mountain; remember to use the special entry and exit channel by showing your passport and train ticket
# have the correct names of the high speed stations in Chinese characters for the taxi drivers etc
# book the high speed train tickets in advance – use a Chinese travel agency or a Chinese friend who can book and pay online
# bring your passport, and your mobile phone with the latest Health Record for the province (if travelling in 2021)
# bring water and snacks, comfortable walking shoes to negotiate the stairs and walkways, and appropriate clothes for the season
# don’t whinge if many of the grottos are protected by gauze as cultural heritage is more important than photo addictions; there are c. 200 grottos and 7000 sculptures – you do not need to see them all!
# take it slow and easy on the steep stairs and on the overhang walkways; be conscious of people around you in tight spaces
# avoid Chinese national holidays at all cost
Written December 30, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

wyrmirae
UK41 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2014 • Couples
I really enjoyed visiting the Maiji Shan complex it has a lot to offer at a reasonable price. Maiji Shan or Haystack Mountain has an extensive complex of Buddhist caves set into its wall about a hundred metres above the ground. The carvings and paintings are very well preserved and it is possible to get very close to them to see them in detail. There are also some very interesting large statues set into the cliff face as well.
The best thing about Maiji Shan is that you are allowed to take photographs - this was not the case at some of the other Buddhist caves I visited (Dunhuang and Kizil). Also as I arrived early it was not very crowded at all and it was possible to enjoy the attraction in relative peace.
Reaching them is not the easiest task in the world as they are somewhat off the beaten track - this adds to their charm though in my opinion.
There are also a number of accommodation and food options in the area around the caves as well as other tourist attractions. The general scenery they are set in is beautiful as well and you get some excellent views.
Written March 27, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Maiji Shan Caves, Tianshui

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