How to Say West in Chinese Directions? 西 (Xī)

In Chinese, the word for “West” is 西 (Xī). This term is crucial for giving directions, describing locations, and discussing the western part of a place. Learning directional words is essential for effective communication, especially when guiding through capital cities, regions, or countries.

When providing directions in Mandarin Chinese, “西” indicates the westward direction. For example, one might say, “往西走” (Wǎng xī zǒu), meaning “go west,” when guiding someone towards the western part of a city or location.

西 (Xī) is commonly incorporated into the names of places and regions. For example, 西方 (Xīfāng) means the western part, and 西安 (Xī’ān), Xi’An is the name of a significant city in Western China, celebrated for its historical importance as an ancient capital.

Beyond its use in directions and place names, 西 is employed in various contexts. Phrases like 西方国家 (Xīfāng guójiā), meaning “Western countries,” or 西方文化 (Xīfāng wénhuà), referring to “Western culture,” utilise the term to express concepts related to the west.

Understanding and using 西 is not only practical for daily navigation but also integral to discussing the cultural and geographical aspects associated with the western parts of China or other countries.

Ready to learn more Mandarin directions? You can visit our “East in Chinese Directions 东 (Dōng)” page for further information. – insert link if already posted here

Intercardinal West Direction in Chinese

In Mandarin Chinese, intercardinal directions play an important role in providing precise orientation and location information. Let’s explore them in detail.

North-West (NW)

Chinese: 西北

Pinyin: Xī Běi

In Mandarin, the term for the intercardinal direction North-West is 西北 (Xī Běi). This points to the northwest quadrant of a given space. For example, you might use this when describing the location of a park or landmark in the northwestern part of a city. “这个城市的购物中心在西北方向” (Zhège chéngshì de gòuwù zhōngxīn zài xīběi fāngxiàng) translates to “The shopping centre of this city is in the northwest direction.”

South-West (SW)

Chinese: 西南

Pinyin: Xī nán

The intercardinal direction South-West is represented as 西南 (Xī nán) in Mandarin Chinese. When guiding someone towards the southwestern part of an area, you might say, “沿着这条街一直走,你就会到达市中心的西南角” (Yánzhe zhè tiáo jiē yīzhí zǒu, nǐ jiù huì dàodá shì zhōngxīn de xīnán jiǎo), meaning “Just keep walking along this street and you’ll reach the southwest corner of the city centre.”

The use of these terms is practical in everyday scenarios, providing clear and concise information about specific areas in the western part of a given region or capital.

Common Chinese Phrases and Expressions of 西 (Xī)

Here are some common Chinese phrases and expressions you may want to learn that can be useful when communicating with Chinese people in a particular country. They are presented in Chinese characters, Pinyin, and English translations:

Phrase: 中国西南地区 (Zhōngguó xīnán dìqū)

  • English Translation: Southwest China
  • Example Sentence: Southwest China is an important geographical region of China.
  • Chinese: 中国西南地区是中国的一个重要地理区域。
  • Pinyin: Zhōngguó xīnán dìqū shì zhōngguó de yīgè zhòngyào dìlǐ qūyù.

Phrase: 西天之路 (Xī tiān zhī lù) 

  • English Translation: The road to the west
  • Example Sentence: We embarked on a new journey, heading towards the road to the west to explore the unknown.
  • Chinese: 我们踏上了新的征程,迎着西天之路去探索未知。
  • Pinyin: Wǒmen tà shàng le xīn de zhēngchéng, yíngzhe xī tiān zhī lù qù tànsuǒ wèizhī.

Idiom: 东山再起,西山千里 (Dōng shān zài qǐ, xī shān qiān lǐ)

  • English Translation: Fall down seven times, get up eight (literally: If you fall down in the east, get up in the west)
  • Example Sentence: Despite facing many difficulties, we must rise again and again, persevering in the face of challenges.
  • Chinese: 尽管遇到了很多困难,但是我们要东山再起,西山千里,坚持不懈。
  • Pinyin: Jǐnguǎn yùdào le hěnduō kùnnán, dànshì wǒmen yào dōngshān zài qǐ, xī shān qiān lǐ, jiānchí bùxiè.

Expression: 西装笔挺 (Xī zhuāng bǐ tǐng)

  • English Translation: Dressed in a smart Western-style suit
  • Example Sentence: He’s dressed in a smart Western-style suit today, looking very professional and confident.
  • Chinese: 他今天穿着西装笔挺,看起来非常专业和自信。
  • Pinyin: Tā jīntiān chuānzhuó xī zhuāng bǐ tǐng, kàn qǐlái fēicháng zhuānyè hé zìxìn.

Additional Characters That Pronounced as (Xī) in Chinese

While the character 西 primarily represents “West,” there are several other characters pronounced as “Xī” with different meanings. Here are a few examples:

希 (Xī)

  • Meaning: Hopeful, rare
  • Example: 希望 Xīwàng – Hope

息 (Xī)

  • Meaning: Rest, to stop
  • Example: 休息 Xiūxí – Rest

喜 (Xǐ)

  • Meaning: Joy, to like
  • Example: 高兴 Gāoxìng – Happy

昔 (Xī)

  • Meaning: Formerly, in the past
  • Example: 往昔 Wǎngxī – Past

熙 (Xī)

  • Meaning: Prosperous, splendid
  • Example: 熙熙攘攘 Xīxīrǎngrǎng – Bustling

These characters showcase the diversity of meanings associated with the pronunciation (Xī) in Mandarin Chinese, ranging from hope and joy to rest and prosperity.

Cultural Significance of West Direction in Chinese

In Chinese culture, the West holds profound significance, with its roots deeply embedded in historical, spiritual, and philosophical contexts. Historically, the West has been associated with the setting sun, symbolising completion and fulfilment. In ancient Chinese cosmology, this direction represented the end of the day. It was sometimes linked to notions of the “Western Paradise” or “Pure Land” in Buddhism, signifying a realm of enlightenment and ultimate peace.

Feng shui, the ancient Chinese practice of harmonising with the environment, ascribes particular importance to the West. It is considered one of the cardinal directions influencing the flow of energy or “qi.” Architects and urban planners often incorporate feng shui principles in the design and layout of structures, aligning buildings and entrances to the west to harness positive energy and promote balance.

Culturally, the West is associated with introspection, reflection, and the pursuit of knowledge. This direction prompts contemplation of the day’s events and lessons. In Chinese art and literature, depictions of the West carry symbolic meanings. Sunset scenes may symbolise the passage of time, the cyclical nature of life, or the completion of a journey. Poetry often references the West in describing landscapes or expressing sentiments related to the twilight of life.

Moreover, traditional Chinese architecture aligns with cardinal directions, emphasising the importance of directional harmony. The West, being one of the cardinal points, is believed to contribute to balance and well-being, both in the physical structures of buildings and in the lives of individuals.


In Chinese culture, the West is not just a direction; it’s a rich tapestry of historical significance, spiritual connections, and good artistic influence. This cardinal direction is deeply significant; it is linked to ideas of wholeness and sunsets while playing a key role in feng shui and architecture for balance, shaping unique cultural expressions and directions.

If you’re drawn to the charm of Mandarin and can’t wait to explore its language and culture, signing up for a course could be your next big adventure! Check out Linda Mandarin, a reputable language school in Singapore that offers a whole host of thorough courses and materials ready for you to learn more words like ‘West’ and ‘South’ in Chinese.

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