There are essentially two ways to look for deals on Dianping: search a venue to see if they have any current promotions or browse Dianping’s group buy (tuangou) section.
(But first – you did install that Chinese-English translation browser extension I mentioned in the last Net Savings, right? It will make your life much, much easier if you don’t read Chinese.)
Looking Up a Venue
One of my favorite Chinese restaurants is In and Out (一座一忘), a Yunnan chain with branches in Sanlitun and Gongti.
Start by plugging the restaurant’s Chinese name into the search bar. Pinyin usually works too.
From the search results, you can tell that from the red “团” icon next to the restaurant names that both branches of In and Out currently have tuangou promotions.
Click on a listing. Each one details the restaurant’s details address, contact, and opening hours.
Below that are the restaurant or branch’s current tuangou promotions. We’ll click the one on the left, which gets you RMB 100 vouchers for the price of RMB 50.
In the next screen, enter how many RMB 100 vouchers you want in the box above the orange button and click the orange button to check out.
A login screen will pop up. Register on Dianping by entering your mobile number and inputting the verification code sent to your phone. Alternatively, log in through partner sites Alipay and QQ (see orange and blue icons above).
Once you log in, you’ll be able to see the payment options available. From top to bottom, they are: online banking (click here for instructions on setting that up), Chinese credit card, and other mobile payment platforms such as Alipay or WeChat Wallet.
Check out as normal, then Dianping will send you a confirmation email or text with the details of the transaction. Fapiao can usually be provided, but you have to go through the seller.
Browsing Tuangou Deals
If you’re not set on a specific venue, another place to find deals is Dianping’s tuangou section, which looks something like this:
Let’s break down the sections a bit, starting with the left-hand column:
This is a list of categories, which are further broken down into subcategories. The main categories include restaurants, entertainment (such as KTV and spas), movies, hotels, travel, beauty services, “lifestyle” services (such as car services), shopping, marriage, and family services (such as family photography).
The middle of the page allows you to browse tuangou deals by:
- Popular categories (热门分类) such as buffets, sets for 8-10 people, and shaokao (barbecue)
- Area (全部区城), including districts and subway lines
- Popular neighborhoods (热门商区) like Wangjing, Olympic Village, Liangmaqiao/Sanyuanqiao, and more
Further down, there’s a list of handpicked tuangou deals with prices, seller/venue, location/branch, and whether you need to reserve or not. Below that are tuangou deals divided into categories.
It’s always worth checking whether there’s a tuangou promotion for a Chinese-run venue, especially if you’re a large group for birthdays or other events.
For example, Mr. X – a room escape franchise with a location in Gongti – currently has a tuangou deal for RMB 820 (down from RMB 1,080), which includes admission for nine people to a room escape scenario. I went there for my birthday last year and it was lots of fun; it would be suitable for ages 15-16 and up.
Sijia Chen is a contributing editor at beijingkids and a freelance writer specializing in parenting, education, travel, environment, and culture. Her work has appeared in The Independent, Midnight Poutine, Rover Arts, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @sijiawrites or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Screenshots: Sijia Chen