OK, this post has nothing to do with medicine — but it’s so darn cool that I simply have to share it with my fellow expats. It’s called “group buying” via the internet, known in Chinese as 团购 tuángòu. You’ve probably heard about the Groupon craze in America, and this group-buying concept started in China less than a year ago. (There’s also a similar flash-buy concept which you can see at CityWeekend here). I’ve been in the internet biz since my 1990’s San Francisco website-design days in the midst of the dot-com revolution — and I must say that this tuángòu is one of the most life-changing revolutions coming from the internet — ever. Seriously, it can impact your daily life here in Beijing, expanding your experiences while saving lots of money.
Why is that? Well, for the same reason that this entire industry, which didn’t even exist in China a year ago, is now almost definitely used every day by most of your Chinese friends and coworkers: you can save a ton of money on all the basics of life. These websites (all in Chinese) are filled with categories but the most useful for expats could be:
- Restaurants 50-90% off (hot pot for 4, 120RMB; famous hotel spot with top dishes, 140RMB for 2…)
- Ski resorts; bars; hot springs; movie tickets (25RMB per person, with free drink)
- Dance lessons (25RMB for 4 lessons for 2); concerts and plays; massages
My wife now spends a couple hours every day searching these websites for new items, and we’ve saved thousands of RMB already just from a couple months of use. We’re talking up to 90% discounts on restaurant fixed-menu packages, and it’s now the norm for us to spend under 100RMB for a great meal for 2 people — and we’ve explored many new places we’d never considered before!
Unfortunately, you need a serious knowledge of Chinese to get through these websites, but it gets fairly routine, and the online credit-card or bank-card transactions are perfectly safe. So what are you waiting for? Join the rest of China and tuángòu! Here are the main websites, thanks to the Beijinger’s helpful article:
Best website to start with: http://t.bj100.com
Group buying websites of popular sites:
Dianping.com (food review website): http://t.dianping.com/beijing.
Renren (China’s Facebook): http://www.nuomi.com/deal/beijing
Baidu (China’s Google):http://tuan.youa.com
Taobao (China’s Amazon): http://ju.taobao.com.
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