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How to setup/use Alipay and Taobao


        Alexis Strand

If you are living in China, Taobao and Alipay will be your best friend.  With Taobao, you can buy anything you want or need.  Whether it is clothes, groceries, electronics…Taobao has everything. Alipay is the method of payment you will use to buy items from Taobao.  You can also use Alipay on other websites, in many stores, to pay for utilities, to order a taxi, to buy a train or airline ticket, and many other things.  However, in this article, we will focus on using Alipay to pay for items on Taobao.

To begin, you must first go to to set up your Alipay account.  When you set up your account, you will need to have your passport number, email address, Chinese phone number, and Chinese bank account number.  In the first step, as shown below, you will enter your email address and the captcha.

In the next step, you will enter your phone number and receive a text message with a code in it.  Input this code to proceed.  You will be brought to a page that requires you to confirm your email address.  Go to your email and click on the link to confirm.

After you have confirmed your email address, you can fill out your information.  Once the information on this page has been filled out correctly, you can proceed to the next page and input your bank account information.  It is important to note that the phone number and passport number listed on your bank account must match what you enter into Alipay.

After you have set up your Alipay account, you can go to and set up an account there.  At first, the website will be in Chinese.  However, you have an option to change the text to English (which I have done here).  The first step is to input your phone number and email.  After entering both, you will receive a link in your email to confirm the account.   

After confirming the account, you will be brought to this page:

Enter a good password and username.  Once you have filled out this information and submitted it, your account is ready to use and you can go shopping.  From here, I recommend downloading an extension for translating if you use Google Chrome.  It is very helpful when navigating Chinese websites such as Taobao.  Almost everything on Taobao is in Chinese, so if you want to search for something you will first need to translate the English words into Chinese.  I find that Google and Baidu both have very good translators (Baidu is great because you don’t have to use a VPN for it!).  I also recommend that you download the Taobao and Alipay APPs because it will make the process much easier when you are making purchases.  When you are ready to make your first purchase, you will add an address and connect your Alipay account during the checkout process.  Each time you make a purchase, you will need to enter the 6 digit number you set up with Alipay (this is similar to the pin code you use with a bank).  Once your purchase is complete, you only need to wait for it to arrive!