Hungry in China? Get ready to DianPing it


China's Dianping app combines crowdsource reviews like Yelp with group discounts like Groupon.
China's Dianping app combines crowdsource reviews like Yelp with group discounts like Groupon.
Photo: Virginia Werner/Cult of Mac

Made_in_china_bugMainland China is Apple’s second biggest market, and will one day be its first. The company is making a big push on the mainland, opening new stores and investing in home-grown companies. Why the interest? Because China is the new Japan — it’s where the future is happening. All this week we take a look at the cutting-edge apps that define mobile life on the mainland.

SHANGHAI CITY, China — “Where are we going to eat? Have you DianPing-ed it yet?” These are questions my friends and I often ask each other when we get together. This convenient app, backed by internet powerhouse Tencent Holdings, is a great tool that combines the functions of Groupon and Yelp.

Da Zhong Dian Ping
Hungry in China? Get ready to Dian Ping it.
Screenshots: Da Zhong Dian Ping

China’s Groupon + Yelp: Da Zhong Dian Ping

App name: Da Zhong DianPing
What it is: Groupon and Yelp in one
Owned by: Dianping Holdings Ltd. Backed by Internet giant Tencent
What it does: Online reservations with group-buying and coupons
Special sauce: covers everything, from restaurants to karaoke bars and nail salons

DianPing allows users to browse extensive listings for more than 12 million local businesses, including restaurants, salons, bars, coffee shops, cinemas and KTVs (karaoke bars) in 2,300 Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing and Ürümqi.

Perhaps the best perk of all is that the majority of businesses offer vouchers for significant discounts and group deals. I recently went to an Indonesian restaurant with a group of eight friends; a Da Zhong DianPing coupon gave us RMB20 off every RMB100 spent. (Approximately $3 for every $15 spent). All we had to do is pull up the deal on one of our iPhones and show our waiter; he took a two-second glance at it and knocked down the price.

There is no way I could have ever known about the discount if I hadn’t checked DianPing first. We ended up saving a decent amount of money, although I would imagine all of the free advertisements — in the form of photos of our food posted to WeChat later that evening — compensated for it.

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headshot-80x80Virginia Werner is a freelance writer, photographer and editor from Fremont, California with a B.A. in Journalism and Chinese from the University of Oregon. She currently lives in Shanghai City, China.