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Xiguan or Sai Kwan (simplified Chinese: 西关; traditional Chinese: 西關; pinyin: Xīguān; Jyutping: Sai1 Gwaan1; literally: "West Gate") is a traditional geographical division of Guangzhou, China. It is the former name of the Liwan District that reaches Xicun (Chinese: 西村; pinyin: Xīcūn; Jyutping: Sai1 Cyun1; literally: "West Village") in the north and borders on Renmin Road (人民路) to the east. The Pearl River lies to its west and south. The area outside the west gate of Guangzhou was collectively called Xiguan during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing Dynasties (1644–1911), a name that remains in use today.


In the past, Guangzhou, or commonly called the capital of Guangdong Province (Chinese: 省城; pinyin: Shěngchéng; Jyutping: Saang2 Seng4) had three city gates respectively on its east, south and west. They are Dongguan (Chinese: 東關; pinyin: Dōngguān; Jyutping: Dung1 Gwaan1; literally: "East Gate"), Nanguan (Chinese: 南關; pinyin: Nánguān; Jyutping: Naam4 Gwaan1; literally: "South Gate") and Xiguan (Chinese: 西關; pinyin: Xīguān; Jyutping: Sai1 Gwaan1; literally: "West Gate"). There are mountains in the north of the city so there was no such thing called Beiguan (Chinese: 北關; pinyin: Běiguān; Jyutping: Bak7 Gwaan1; literally: "North Gate"). Guan (Chinese: ; pinyin: guān; Jyutping: gwaan1) means gate in Chinese. Thus, Xiguan refers to the area outside the west gate of Guangzhou.

The former but more commonly known translation for Xiguan is Sai Kwan (Cantonese Romanisation). Other less often translations are West Kwan, West Gate, West Suburbs, West Outskirts or West Guan. Currently, the official translation is Xiguan in accordance with Hanyu Pinyin, the official system to transcribe Chinese characters into the Latin script.


Narrow sense[edit]

Xiguan in narrow sense is the authentic Xiguan, the west outskirts of the ancient city, Guangzhou. It is alternatively called Xiyuan (Chinese: 西園; pinyin: Xīyuán; Jyutping: Sai1 Jyun4; literally: "West Garden") or Xiguanjiao (Chinese: 西關角; pinyin: Xīguānjiǎo; Jyutping: Sai1 Gwaan1 Gok8; literally: "West Gate Corner"). An old slang goes in Guangzhou that Dongcun, Xiqiao, Nanfu, Beipin (Chinese: 東村、西俏、南富、北貧; pinyin: Dōngcn Xīqiào Nánfù Běipín; Jyutping: Dung1 Cyun1, Sai1 Ciu3, Naam4 Fu3, Bak7 Pan5; literally: "Villages in the east, smartness in the west, richness in the south, poverty in the north"). In the slang, Xiqiao refers to Xiguan. The north of Xiguan reaches Xicun and it borders on Renmin Lu eastwards. And Pearl River lies on its west and south. That is to say, Xiguan covers former Liwan District excluding Litchi Bay (Chinese: 荔枝灣; pinyin: Lìzhī Wān; Jyutping: Lai6 Zi1 Waan1) and Xicun (Chinese: 西村; pinyin: Xīcūn; Jyutping: Sai1 Cyun1; literally: "West Village").

It is worth mentioning that Xiguan lies to the west of Taiping Gate (Chinese: 太平門; pinyin: Tàipíng Mén; Jyutping: Taai3 Ping4 Mun4; literally: "Peace and Security Gate"). Xiguan is the suburb of Guangzhou and it was administrated by Nanhai County (Chinese: 南海縣; pinyin: Nánhǎi Xiàn; Jyutping: Naam4 Hoi2 Jyun6-2) rather than Panyu County (Chinese: 番禺縣; pinyin: Pānyú Xiàn; Jyutping: Pun1 Jyu4 Jyun6-2) (covering former Yuexiu District and former Dongshan District). Therefore, it was not regarded as part of the capital of Guangdong Province (Chinese: 省城; pinyin: Shěngchéng; Jyutping: Saang2 Seng4).

Broad sense[edit]

Xiguan in broad sense is also called New Xiguan, referring to either former Liwan District or current Liwan District (covering former Liwan District and former Fangcun District).

Liwan District is orientated by Guangzhou City Government as an urban area of most Lingnan (Chinese: 嶺南; pinyin: Lǐngnán; Jyutping: Ling5 Naam4; literally: "Ridge South") characteristics in Guangzhou.

This page mainly introduces Xiguan in narrow sense and slightly mentions about Litchi Bay and Xicun. For further information about Xiguan in broad sense, please read Liwan District.

Official plan[edit]

On October 27, 2006, in response to the concerned proposal motioned by Guangzhou Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang Revolutionary Committee, Liwan District Government said that Plan on Preserving Traditional Xiguan blocks and Liwan Kaleidoscope (Chinese: 西關傳統街區與荔灣區風情保護規劃) had been approved and adopted, which has defined the scope of Xiguan for the first time.

The north boundary of Xiguan is Zhongshan Qilu (Chinese: 中山七路; pinyin: Zhōngshān Qīlù; Jyutping: Zung1 Saan1 Cat7 Lou8; literally: "Sun Yat-sen Rd., 7th") and Zhongshan Balu (Chinese: 中山八路; pinyin: Zhōngshān Bālù; Jyutping: Zung1 Saan1 Baat8 Lou8; literally: "Sun Yat-sen Rd., 8th") (thus bring into Chen Clan Academy into Xiguan's scope) and its east one is Renmin Zhonglu (Chinese: 人民中路; pinyin: Rénmín Zhōnglù; Jyutping: Jan4 Man4 Zung1 Lou6; literally: "People's Rd., C.") and Renmin Nanlu (Chinese: 人民南路; pinyin: Rénmín Nánlù; Jyutping: Jan4 Man4 Naam4 Lou6; literally: "People's Rd., S."). Its south and west reach Pearl River. The division covers an area of 536 hectare (5.36 square metres).

The definition has generally covered Xiguan in narrow sense.


Xiguan map in 1878. Xiguan was outside the west city wall. Pearl River lies on its west and south and Shamian Island lies in its south.

Former Liwan District comprised Xiguan, Litchi Bay and Xicun. These three parts, which were administrated by Nanhai County before ROC 10 (1921), were outside the west city wall.

Xiguan was outside Taiping Gate on the west city wall (currently Renmin Lu). Its south point reaches the mouth of Xihao (Chinese: 西濠; pinyin: Xīháo; Jyutping: Sai1 Hou4; literally: "West Moat") and its north reaches Diyi Jin (Chinese: 第一津; pinyin: Dyī Jn; Jyutping: Dai6 Jat7 Zeon1; literally: "1st Quay"). Shamian Island lies in its south. The area from Diyi Jin to Taiping Gate was called Upper Xiguan (Chinese: 上西關; pinyin: Shàng Xīguān; Jyutping: Soeng6 Sai1 Gwaan1) and the area stretching westwards from Guangfu Zhonglu (Chinese: 光復中路; pinyin: Guāngfù Zhōnglù; Jyutping: Gwong1 Fuk9 Zung1 Lou6; literally: "Territory Recovery Rd., C.") to Huangsha (Chinese: 黃沙; pinyin: Huángshā; Jyutping: Wong4-2 Saa1; literally: "Yellow Beach") and Huagui Lu (Chinese: 華貴路; pinyin: Huáguì Lù; Jyutping: Waa4 Gwai3 Lou6; literally: "Dignity & Grace Rd.") was named Lower Xiguan (Chinese: 下西關; pinyin: Xià Xīguān; Jyutping: Haa6 Sai1 Gwaan1).

Litchi Bay refer to the area from outside Xiguan to the riverside of Pearl River, currently from Duobao Lu (Chinese: 多寶路; pinyin: Duōbǎo Lù; Jyutping: Do1 Bou2 Lou6; literally: "Treasure Rd."), Longjin Lu (Chinese: 龍津路; pinyin: Lóngjīn Lù; Jyutping: Lung4 Zeon1 Lou6; literally: "Dragon Quay Rd.") and Pantang (Chinese: 泮塘; pinyin: Pàntáng; Jyutping: Bun6-3 Tong4-2; literally: "Half Pond") to Zhongshan Balu and Liwan Lu (Chinese: 荔灣路; pinyin: Lìwān Lù; Jyutping: Lai6 Waan1 Lou6; literally: "Litchi Bay Rd.").

Xicun refers to the area northwest to Xiguan and Litchi Bay.


Xiguan is the window of Xixue Dongjian (Chinese: 西學東漸; pinyin: Xīxué Dōngjiān; Jyutping: Sai1 Hok9 Dung1 Zim1; literally: "Western Learning or Dissemination of Western Learning to the Orient or Western Learning Spreading to the East or Western Learning Introduced Into China") in contemporary South China. It is also one of the cradlelands of Lingnan culture. Xiguan culture is one of the substances of Guangfu (Chinese: 廣府; pinyin: Guǎngfǔ; Jyutping: Gwong2 Fu2; literally: "Cantonese") culture.


Main article: Xiguan dialect


There are varieties of customs in Xiguan, which are comparatively well conserved among districts in Guangzhou.

Customs during Spring Festival, Ching Ming Festival, Qixi Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival and Dongzhi Festival (Winter Solstice Festival) are more or less the same as those in other places in Guangzhou.

During Duanwu Festival (alternatively known as Dragon Boat Festival), people in Xiguan watch dragon boat races and eat Zongzi. Male residents row dragon boats.

Nursery rhymes[edit]


Elementary schools[edit]

  • Xiguan Peizheng Primary School
  • Xianjidong Primary School
  • Sanyuanfang Primary School
  • Liuhua Lu Primary School
  • Dongfeng Xilu No.1 Primary School
  • Dongfeng Xilu No.2 Primary School
  • Xihua Lu Primary School
  • Xinglong Lu Primary School
  • Longjin Xilu Primary School
  • Huiyuannan Primary School
  • Xilaixi Primary School
  • Affiliated Primary School of Guangzhou Normal School
  • Liwan Lexianfang Primary School
  • Shamian Primary School
  • Guangya Li Primary School
  • Liwan Baoyuan Zhongyue Primary School
  • Wenchang Xiang Primary School
  • Baohua Primary School
  • Ludixi Primary School
  • Mingxing Li Primary School
  • Huangsha Dadao Primary School
  • Renmin Zhonglu Primary School
  • Zhoumen Primary School
  • Shuangqiao Primary School
  • Liwan Experimental School
  • Huancuiyuan Primary School
  • Zhongshan Balu Primary School
  • Guangya Primary School
  • Huanshi Xilu Primary School
  • Longjin Primary School
  • Baohua Peizheng Primary School
  • Liwan Huaqiao Primary School
  • Liwan Xihua Lu Primary School
  • Zhuji Lu Primary School
  • Yaohua Primary School
  • Wenchang Primary School
  • Jinyan Li Primary School

High schools[edit]

  • Guangdong Guangya Middle School
  • Guangzhou No.4 Middle School
  • Guangzhou Vocational School of Early Childhood Education
  • Guangzhou No.35 Middle School
  • Guangzhou No.31 Middle School
  • Guangzhou Xiguan Foreign Language School (former Middle School )
  • Guangzhou No.1 Middle School
  • Guangzhou Xiehe Senior School (former Guangzhou Normal School )
  • Guangzhou Meihua Middle School (former Guangzhou No.59 Middle School )
  • Guangzhou No.23 Middle School
  • Guangzhou No.36 Middle School
  • Guangzhou No.90 Middle School (emerged into Peiying Middle School )
  • Guangzhou Chenjiageng Memorial Middle School (former Guangzhou No.30 Middle School )
  • Guangzhou No.23 Middle School
  • Liuhua Middle School
  • Guangzhou Nanhai Middle School (former Guangzhou No.11 Middle School )
  • Guangzhou No.69 Middle School (Closed; afterwards became the campus of Xianjidong Primary School )
  • Guangzhou No.24 Middle School
  • Xiguan Peiying Middle School
  • Guangzhou No.100 Middle School (emerged into Guangzhou Nanhai Middle School )
  • Guangzhou Liwan Middle School (former Guangzhou No.43 Middle School )

Historical relics[edit]

Main article: Heritage of Xiguan

Xiguan residences[edit]

Xiguan Residences (Chinese: 西關大屋; pinyin: Xīguān Dàwū; Jyutping: Sai1 Gwaan1 Daai6 Uk7), which used to be the residences of wealthy businessmen, are the typical representative of vernacular dwellings in Xiguan.

Three-ply Doors complete with replica scenery.

Bamboo tube houses[edit]

Zhu Tong (Bamboo Tube) Houses are traditional houses that are rich in characteristics of Lingnan (a geographical area referring to lands in the south of China's "Five Ranges" which are Tayu, Qitian, Dupang, Mengzhu, Yuecheng. This region covers the Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces of modern China and northern Vietnam). They are relatively cruder and narrower than a Xi guan (West Customs) house. The width of this type of house is short and the depth is long; the W/L ratio varies from 1:4 to 1:8. The rooms are arranged from front to back with skylights (天井) as intervals thus the shape of a bamboo tube. Ventilation, drainage and traffic are mainly dependent on the skylights and the roadway, i.e. the longer the house is, the more skylights are required. They appear to be one story, but since they can reach a height of 4.5 meters, they always set floor levels and stairways within the house. Stones are used to construct the base of a wall and bricks are used as the body of each wall. They always have a gable, a wooden frame and a tiled roof.

Granite streets & lanes[edit]

Granite Streets and Lanes (Chinese: 麻石街巷) were paved with granite, widely distributed around Xiguan Residences.


Arcades on Shangxiajiu

Some people claim that arcades (Chinese: 騎樓) in Xiguan correlate closely to the residences of ancient people living in Nanyue (Chinese: 南越). They are considered as the trace of Baiyue (Chinese: 百越) Stilt house (Chinese: 干欄屋).

On the other hand, some people insist that arcades are structures built in 1925 when streets were extended and roads were constructed on a large scale in Guangzhou. Their design is deemed to have derived from ancient Greece.

Arcades connect houses and make a long path for pedestrians to keep out wind, rain and the glare of sunshine. Arcades seem to be exactly designed for the climate in Guangzhou and meanwhile makes it much more convenient for stores to display their goods and attract customers.

Guangzhou style arcades on Shanghai Street, Mong Kok, Hong Kong

This kind of structure has always been the main feature of Guangzhou's commercial atmosphere and has become the sign of Guangdong Street or Canton Street (Chinese: 廣東街) in other places, such as Jinling Donglu (Chinese: 金陵東路) in Shanghai

Arcades in Guangzhou first appeared in the area around Sacred Heart Cathedral (Chinese: 聖心大教堂) on Yide Lu (Chinese: 一德路; pinyin: Yīdé Lù; Jyutping: Jat7 Dak7 Lou6; literally: "Yide Rd."). Later, other business quarters in Guangzhou fell over each other in eagerness to imitate the example such as Shangxiajiu (Chinese: 上下九; pinyin: Shàngxiàjiǔ; Jyutping: Soeng6 Haa6 Gau2), Zhongshan Lu, Enning Lu (Chinese: 恩寧路; pinyin: Ēnníng Lù; Jyutping: Jan1 Ning4 Lou6; literally: "Enning Rd.") and Renmin Nanlu.

Architectural complex on Shamian Island[edit]

Main article: Shamian Island

Church of Our Lady of Lourdes (Catholic church) on Shamian Island
Christ Church Shamian (Protestant church)

Speaking of architectural forms, buildings on Shamian can be divided into four categories: New Baroque, Neoclassical, Verandah and Pseudo-Gothic.

Architectural complex on Shamian Island

Western-style structures on Changdi & Xidi[edit]

During the end of the Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century, along the Changdi (Long riverbank) and Xidi (west riverbank) of the Pearl River in Guangzhou, large office and commercial buildings were constructed, which reflected the popular new classical architectural style of the Nineteenth Century Western Countries and have also retained the architectural features of the Grecian and Roman times.


Delicacies which have earned the title of Chinese Famous Food are as follows: Peanut & Sesame Filled Cake of Ronghua Teahouse, Shuangpinai and Milk With Ginger Juice of Nanxin, Shrimp Wonton of Ouchengji, Jidi Congee of Wuzhanji, Ginger Juice & Milk Custard Tart of Qingping Restaurant, Sweetheart Cake of Lianxianglou Teahouse, Rice Noodle Roll With Beef of Yinji and Goose Liver Boiled Dumplings of Jinzhongge .

Delicacies which have earned the title of Guangzhou Famous Food are as follows: Milk With Ginger Juice of Xinghualou Teahouse, Milk Paste of Fenghuang, Sesame Paste Sweet Dumplings of Rongde, Sachima of Satangji, Sampan Congee, Salty Pancake of Dechang, Stuffed Glutinous Rice Dumpling and Burst(Laughing) Deep-fried Pastry Ball of Liangyingji, White Sugar Lunjiao Cake of Guohua, Coconut Ice Cream and Grass Jelly of Shunji Bingshi .

The Chinese character Ji is often used in a restaurant's signage, often following the owner's name. For instance, Kaiji is named this way because of its owner's name KAI, Ye Jiankai.


Shuangpinai in Daliang, Shunde owns a most famous reputation. The founder of Nanxin comes from Shunde, and set up a shop in Guangzhou in 1943.

Ice cream of Shunji[edit]

Coconut ice cream of Shunji Bingshi is a well-known Xiguan snack. The restaurant was established by a street hawker named Lu Shun in the 1920s. Coconut juice, extracted from fresh coconut meat, diluted milk, eggs and refined white sugar are the ingredients. The delicacies of Shunji have been tasted by heads of foreign states and honored guests such as Norodom Sihanouk from Cambodia in the 1950s and 1960s. Since 1956, the restaurant has acquired the title of Guangzhou Famous Food.

Tangyuan served with green bean soup of Kaiji[edit]

Kaiji is located on Longjin Donglu . Its owner is Ye Jiankai and he is jokingly called Dousha Kai because of the restaurant's food. Kaiji's Tangyuan (sweet dumplings) served with green bean soup and Vanilla green bean soup clear away diners' heat and toxic material and earn a high reputation in Guangzhou. The shop is Ye's grandfather's legacy.

Shrimp wonton noodle of Ouchengji[edit]

Shrimp Wonton Noodle of Ouchengji is famous. The soup served with this delicacy is the double-stewed soup made of shrimp-roe, flounder and pig bones. Fresh pork, shrimp and eggs are used in stuffing of the wontons. The wonton wrapper is so thin that wontons appear carneous after being cooked thoroughly, thus called glass wontons .

Jidi Congee of Wuzhanji[edit]

Jidi Congee of Wuzhanji, alternatively called Sanyuan Jidi Congee, has been famous since Republic of China. Located in Wenchang Xiang, the restaurant is famous for its variety of congee, Jidi the congee in particular. This congee contains dried beancurd stick, gingko and flounder. The congee is also called Sanyuan Jidi Congee for the reason that the numbers of its ingredients in each bowl, namely pork balls, pork liver slices and pork intestine slices correspond respectively to the numbers of Zhuangyuan, Bangyan and Tanhua . Wuzhanji's Jidi Congee earned the title of Chinese Famous Food in 1997.

Rice noodle roll with beef of Yinji[edit]

Rice noodle roll was originated by the Hexianguan Restaurant in Pantang during the Second Sino-Japanese War and it has been a must in Guangzhou's restaurants. Rice noodle roll with beef of Yinji is the most famous type. Rice milk is steamed into rice pellicle with meat smash, fillet and pork liver on it and the pellicle is rolled and then cut apart.

Sampan Congee[edit]

Sampan Congee comes from Litchi Bay. It is called Sampan Congee because it was sold by Tanka people on sampans. Its ingredients used to be only river prawns and slices of fish. Now it has become a commonly seen snack and has gradually become a dish served in restaurants and hotels. Its ingredients are unceasingly updated, with salted jellyfish, peanuts and fried vermicelli.

Eating etiquette[edit]

People in Xiguan pay particular attention to eating etiquette, especially in tea houses. They don't swear and they are courteous to one another and they express their gratitude. When pouring tea, only 80% of the cup is filled. Furthermore, they devote particular care to certain gestures for pouring tea or wine and when picking up food with chopsticks and spoons.

They use different cups when dishing up different dishes and different glasses are used when served with different kinds of wine.

Diners, especially businessmen, like to take advantage of dining by killing time as well as checking out the latest market quotations.


In the past, gentle and simple, honour and humble were trenchant in Xiguan. The disparity between rich and poor was wide. An old proverb rang a bell in Guangzhou that "Ladies in Xiguan, Gentlemen in Dongshan and riffraffs in Henan."

Traffic in the former Liwan District[edit]

Waterway transport used to be indispensable in the former Liwan District of Xiguan. However, with the process of urbanization, many creeks have been converted into culverts. Nowadays, land transport has mostly replaced its status.

Major trunk roads[edit]

Bridges and tunnels[edit]


See Guangzhou Buses.


See Guangzhou Metro.

Line 1[edit]

See also: Line 1, Guangzhou Metro

Line 5[edit]

See also: Line 5, Guangzhou Metro

Line 6[edit]

See also: Line 6, Guangzhou Metro

Line 8[edit]

See also: Line 8, Guangzhou Metro

Line 11[edit]

See also: Line 11, Guangzhou Metro

Administrative division[edit]

In 2005, former Fangcun District was merged into Liwan District.

Current jurisdictional area[edit]

Liwan District administrates 22 Subdistricts (13 from former Liwan District plus 9 from former Fangcun District).

Former Liwan District[edit]

Former Fangcun District[edit]


Main article: Economy of Xiguan



The panoramic view of Bai'etan. In the photo, you can see Haizhu District on the left, Fangcun in front, and Shamian Island with White Swan Hotel on the right.

Howl of a Stone Lion[edit]


Weaving Machine-underlying Stone[edit]

Li Wentian[edit]

Drama and music[edit]


  • The Song Xiguan Xiaojie (literally: "Miss Xiguan") by Dongshan Shaoye (literally: "Mr. Dongshan")
  • The Album Xiguan (Chinese: 西關) by Liao Weili (Chinese: 廖偉力)

Television drama[edit]

Mainland China[edit]

  • Wailai Xifu Bendi Lang (literally: "Ecdemic Wives & Local Husbands")
  • Fengyu Xiguan (literally: "Turbulence at West Gate")

Hong Kong[edit]

  • Xiguan Dashao (literally: "Xiguan Gentleman")
  • When Easterly Showers Fall On The Sunny West (Chinese: 東山飄雨西關晴)

Current situation[edit]

Xiguan is densely populated and its transportation is convenient. There are plenty of buildings with Guangzhou characteristics. Its folk atmosphere is rich and unique. Xiguan is something of an area which embodies Guangzhou local culture.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Research Into Cantonese Teaching & Pronunciation (Chinese: 粤語教学與讀音研究) (by Mok Chiu Hung (Chinese: 莫朝雄), Hong Kong Education Publishing House (Chinese: 香港教育出版社), 1961 edition)

External links[edit]