I am so excited with my recent discovery of 团购 (“tuangou”), which means “group buying.” It’s a Chinese version of Groupon, available in all of China’s big cities, plus some other popular vacation destinations in Asia. It works the same way as Groupon: you prepay at discounted prices for meals, personal care services, hotels, vacation packages, household goods, you name it! Once it’s paid for, you can make reservations directly with the merchant and enjoy. If you buy products, they’ll be delivered right to your door. The difference is that Groupon offers the deals from different merchants, but in China, a lot of e-commerce sites offer their own 团购, which gives you a lot more options.
I’ve tried a couple of Groupon deals in the past and haven’t really had a good experience. It felt like I was getting secondary treatment having not paid full price, when the purpose of Groupon is really to draw more customers to your business in the hope that they’ll keep coming back. In China, though, I’ve gotten pretty lucky with it.
Here’s an example of a prix fixe meal I bought for about US$33, regularly priced at US$60. It’s one of my favorite Cantonese restaurants in Beijing, called and 粤北小城 and located on the top floor of a shopping mall near Sanlitun Village. When Sarah was working in Beijing, we’d meet up there for lunch on the weekdays. Here’s what you get for 30 bucks (photos from the restaurant, as shown on dianping.com):
Are you as overwhelmed with this deal as I was? Another reason that I like this whole system is that I don’t have to spend the normal fifteen to twenty minutes thinking about what to order. The food just appears. Like magic! It’s great! Headed to China any time soon? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll help you score some good dinner deals.