The Chinese version of Amazon.com - Taobao

Amazon.com started out as an online bookstore. Since that time it has turned into the largest online retailer selling just about anything. It has become a place where people go to get reviews on and buy products. Amazon is a great place for people like me; people who like getting cheap stuff but don't really want to go out shopping for it. You can imagine my excitement when I found out about the Chinese equivalent: taobao.com

Taobao.com is more like Amazon.com and ebay.com put together. I say that because not only can you find everything there for really cheap, you can also haggle with the seller if you would like to get it a bit cheaper (one of the funner things about shopping in China).

In order to use taobao, I first had to set up online banking. I had to go to the bank to sign up for online banking. Easy process. Easy process that is, if you have a Chinese name. The first time I set up my bank account, I signed my name simply McKay Christensen. I did it this way because, well; that is my name. Apparently that was not good enough for online banking because the lady processing my paperwork noticed on my passport that my name is MCKAY WYNN CHRISTENSEN. I tried explaining how American names work and how we typically don't include our middle name when signing, but all efforts were futile. Passports don't lie. Not only now could I not change my bank account, but I was forced to close my current bank account, create a new account, THEN I was able to change it to an online banking account. Yay. I now sign my name in all caps and include my middle name.

With online banking, I was ready to set up taobao. This is when either being a computer geek or having good Chinese skills comes in handy. Fortunately I am a computer geek and was able to translate the Chinese well enough to sign up for an account.

I have started going crazy on taobao. Not only can you find stuff you would not otherwise be able to find, you can get ridiculously cheap stuff in China for even cheaper.

Two days after my first purchase, I got a call from a Chinese guy... generally when someone calls me up and does not speak any English, I just tell them that they da cuo le'd (hit wrong [wrong number]). I did this with this man and he kept on trying to tell me that I was the right person. I hung up. He called back... I realized that this was a guy delivering my package. Guess I just didn't expect it to come so soon! (Even though I kind of was a jerk for hanging up on him, the man was super nice once he realized I was foreign. People here typically are.)

Here is my first package from an online purchase. Not your typical shipping box with excessive packaging.

Yay for bubble wrap! Can you tell what it is?

That is right! Settlers of Catan. Chinese version no less! We have been playing this almost every day since getting it a week ago.

This game cost me 50 RMB. That is about $8 USD.  That price included shipping as well. Significantly cheaper than what you could get in America.

Next up... can you guess what this is?

It is a backpacking camera bag! I have always wanted one of these but never found one in America. Now I have one. 

Here it is next to my current Canon camera bag. They cost about the same but my new bag is super awesome. It cost 350 RMB with shipping. About $55 USD.

I did not buy this yo-yo off taobao but I just wanted to include it here to give a shout out to my favorite toy. Yo-yos seem to be quite popular here and it is very easy to find a very nice yo-yo that is very inexpensive. 

This yo-yo cost me 100 RMB. About $16 USD. About 10 years ago I am sure this would have cost about $100 in America.


  1. I love the backpack brand. Sounds like Taobao.com is pretty freaking awesome. Wish we had something like that here. America is too expensive.

  2. Nice article. I knew Taobao.com some days ago but I have a trouble: I cannot sign in!
    I mean, everytime I try to sign in the system asks me the telephone number, and it must be a chinese telephone number: I tried to invent it but the system says me that the number is not correct (clever...). So, I tried to insert a true number (ouch) and it say me still "not correct".
    I'm disappointed. Did you have all this problems when you signed in Tabao?

  3. how do I switch it to English?