The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate World Asia 2018 – Bangkok
24 October 2018
Awww yeah! It’s back again! This is the FOURTH edition of Affiliate World Asia - the biggest affiliate conference series to hit the world’s most populous continent - and the scope is broader than ever before.
This year features a whole new array of big-name speakers across diverse fields within the performance marketing industry, with a focus on affiliate marketing, ecommerce, ad tech and more. The bar keeps getting raised… and if you want to get full value from the event, you need to come prepared.
Our 2018 guide to Bangkok and AWA is chock full of tips to help you maximize your experience:
Exclusive interviews with 4 speakers (Dennis Yu, Maor Benaim and Dee Deng)
Essential tips to prepare for your trip - whether it's your first or fiftieth time to Bangkok, you'll surely discover something new.
Comprehensive conference details - learn about the speakers, network with the app, find out where everything is happening and arrive 100% ready.
Plenty of ways to enjoy Bangkok - from Thai temples and massages to Muay Thai and more, we’ve picked up the best tips for exploring the city.
An interactive map - don’t get lost (unless that’s your intention). Get our map and visualize everything in the guide.
Before we get into it, we’d like to say thanks to our contributors over the years:
Dennis Yu, Dee Deng, Maor Benaim, the Advidi team (2018)
Neil Patel, James van Elswyk, Jay Lev, Sarah Bundy (2017)
Nicky Cakes, Julie Larson, Mr. Romance, and the team at Affiliate World Conferences (2016)
We get our information from as many sources as possible - we really want to live up to the “ultimate guide” claim, so if you have a tip you would like to share, please get in touch!
From dressing properly to finding your hotel, these quick tips will help you get all the essentials prepared.
Getting a visa
Thailand is a very popular tourist destination, so short-stay visas are typically easy to obtain. However, your specific visa situation depends on your country of origin. Most visitors will be granted a 30-day visa with little to no hassle (be sure to read about the various Thai visa options before visiting).
If you require an invitation letter (usually for those who intend on conducting business), you may request one from Affiliate World Conferences here.
Although AWA occurs during the middle of winter in Bangkok, you’ll find yourself shedding layers left and right if you don’t dress properly. Two things to consider:
It’s warm. Average temperatures in December range from 20-31°C (68-88°F);
Rain is rare. Average rainfall is 9mm (compared to 320mm in September).
We recommend light clothes and comfortable shoes.
Bangkok - city of temples, tradition, warriors and debauchery.
From the moment you arrive...
These tips were sent in by Gerard (aka Mr. Romance) and should make your arrival easier!
Before leaving, ask your hotel for the “Fast Track Service” – with this service, you will be greeted by someone when you get off the plane with a sign and your name on it. You will also be able to use the Diplomat line for customs, which is much shorter than the regular line. The hotel will add a charge to your bill, usually less than $50 USD.
Once you exit passport control but before you get your bags, you will see a Currency Exchange place and ATMs. You can withdraw or exchange cash there.
After you leave the final customs check point, you can buy a local SIM card (if you have an unlocked phone). Just find the cell phone carriers near the exit.
Hop in the limo and head into town! Mr. Romance suggests asking your hotel to provide a limo service. It is no more than $50 each way and they should have a BMW or Benz.
The local currency is Thai Baht (abbreviated THB, with the symbol ฿ – and no, that’s not Bitcoin). One Thai Baht is comprised of 100 satang.
Like most places, exchange rates are a bit higher at the airport than at branches downtown (even from the same bank). The best place to exchange currency at the airport is Kasikorn Bank downstairs. It’s open from 7am-11pm. We suggest grabbing enough to make it into town (which may be nothing if you’ve already arranged transportation), then finding a bank branch to withdraw against a debit card (see the ATMs/cards section below)
Update 26 October 2018: We've received word from a local that SuperRich is currently the best exchange option in Bangkok. Check it out if you're hunting for the best possible rates!
Your card will likely work at most ATMs in Thailand, but you’ll pay about ฿180 (about $5) to the bank for the privilege, along with any fees your own bank imposes. To avoid this, consider withdrawing from your debit card over the counter at a Thai bank branch or exchange bureau. Go when it’s slow, and don’t forget your passport – it’s required to withdraw with debit.
$1 USD = ฿35
€1 EUR = ฿38
£1 GBP = ฿42.8
¥1 JPY = ฿0.34
¥1 CNY = ฿5
฿1,000 = ~$28.5 USD
฿2,500 = ~$71.35 USD
฿5,000 = whatever it is, you’re probably paying too much (unless you’re at L’Atelier)
Prices in Thailand are cheap, though locals will charge foreigners more whenever they can get away with it. Aside from traveling with a local or hiring a guide, there’s not much you can do about it. Don’t worry – prices will still be quite affordable, even in the tourist areas. On an average day, you can expect to pay around ฿300-500 on food and ฿150-250 on transportation.
Find a detailed breakdown of average expenses in Bangkok here.
Getting around Bangkok
We’ve created an interactive map that includes all the locations in this guide:
Download our free map on your phone for easy travel around BKK!
Note: In our research for this guide, we discovered a lot of inconsistencies in addresses and place names. Sometimes locations are spelled as separate words, while in other contexts they’re linked together (sometimes with new or missing letters). This is apparently quite normal in Thailand. The locations on the map are accurate, but be sure to double check if you’re going somewhere else; Google Maps doesn’t always have updated information.
Local travel & public transport
There are a few ways to get around Bangkok, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Our top recommendation is to use either Grab or Uber!
Grabhas bravely taken on the market in Southeast Asia, countering Uber's western-oriented approach with smart attention to local needs. Their backstory is particularly interesting, and it's become the go-to for locals and visitors alike... check it out before you default to Uber!
Tuk-tuks and taxis are everywhere, but they can be scammy as hell. The city is congested and drivers often lead double lives as scammers, so it’s better to use public transport when you can. Taxis and tuk-tuks are okay in a pinch; they’re always happy to pick up a “farang” (local slang for “foreigner”) because they think they can charge you more. Negotiate the price before leaving, or make sure the meter is on and running the whole time. Note that a typical fare from the airport to the center is around ฿450, so don’t pay more than that; a typical (relatively short) trip should be around ฿30-100 for a taxi, ฿70-200 for a tuk-tuk. (Yes, tuk-tuks are usually more expensive - read more about scams and how to avoid them here.)
The infamous tuk-tuk.
BTS Skytrain is the city’s metro system. It’s fast, cheap and clean. The only drawbacks: routes are limited and it stops running around midnight. The nearest metro stations to the conference are Siam and Chit Lom. You can find a full map and plan your trips on the official BTS website.
Bangkok MRT is the subway system. It’s a relatively small network, but luckily it’s centered around the location of the convention, so it could be useful. Find the schedule here.
Walking around Bangkok is very possible, and seeing as the conference is in December, the usual obstacle (insane heat and humidity) won’t be a problem. That said, the city is chaotic. Bring/download a map to make sure you don’t get (too) lost. Stay oriented by learning how the Sois (side streets) are numbered.
Uber was the best option on the list for a while, although Grab is giving them a run for their money. An UberX trip from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the conference location costs ฿325 (about $12). Get a fare estimate or download the app.
If you're not headed anywhere in particular, consider taking a bike tour with Co Van Kessel! We may be biased here - it's a Dutch company, and we love bikes - but they've been around for 30 years and have great reviews.
The 2018 Affiliate World Asia conference will take place on 5-6 December 2018 at the Centara Grand and Bangkok Convention Centre, on the 22nd floor:
The event takes place at the Centara Grand, so it makes sense that it’s also the official hotel for the conference. Spots are disappearing rapidly, so jump on your chance to get a discount through this link (sponsored by the conference). It expires on 1 November!
Airbnb is active in Bangkok, with prices for a night ranging from ฿700-2500 ($20-70 USD). Check out their listings here.
There's no better place to get a taste of Thai than the source itself. Indulge!
In Bangkok, street food is king and you can’t go wrong. It’s known to many foodies as a paradise for delicious dishes in unassuming places – that dark back alley from the market may be hiding something seriously special.
It's useful to note that a service charge is included on your bill at bars and restaurants in Thailand. You can tip extra if you wish, but it's uncommon. If there's no service charge, a 10% tip is average.
While you’ll do just fine wandering around eating everything you see, those seeking the best of the best should check out these guides:
Sky Bar at Lebua Hotel:Bar / Nightclub. If you have time, this is the best sky bar in the city. It is not close to the show hotel, but try to make it! It was used in a scene in The Hangover 2.
Cabbages and Condoms: Restaurant. This quirky restaurant is part of a social initiative to improve access to birth control and healthy sexual education. Recommended by our colleague Matthijs!
Ce La Vi Nightclub: Nightclub. Formerly Ku De Ta, this lounge offers a sophisticated setting for those who want to impress. Recommended by Tobias!
Zuma Restaurant at St Regis Hotel:Fine Dining – Sushi. Featuring lunch and late-night dinner (served until midnight), this Japanese restaurant features a traditional interior designed by Noriyoshi Muramatsu of Studio Glitt in Tokyo. Recommended by Patrick!
Emergency numbers / Tourist Police
The best way to get help is by calling the Tourist Police. Yes, it’s a real thing and they are actually very helpful. The Tourist Police offer assistance in English and can be reached by calling 1155. They will direct you to the appropriate resource.
If you’re a local who speaks Thai, you can call emergency services directly at… wait a minute, why are you reading this guide? Anyway, it's 191.
Find more emergency information for visitors here.
2. EVENT OVERVIEW
The conference that keeps on growing... if the promotion so far is any indication, the 2018 edition of AWA will be bigger than any before - extending beyond the focus of previous years by covering ecom, agencies and other aspects of the industry besides classic affiliate marketing. In other words: it's going to be huuuuuge!!!
The theme for 2018 will be slightly adapted - you can expect the same quality in networking opportunities and speakers, but according to STM administrator stackman: "This year we've decided to focus as much as we can on Asia/China and put more of a light onto those markets. A lot of interesting tactics from some huge Facebook spenders and Ecom giants will be shared this year at AWA."
Affiliate World Asia: How it all began
Affiliate World Asia began as a way to bring STM forum discussions to life in the real world. It started in a meetup format, but has quickly outgrown itself into a full company (Affiliate World Conferences) with two major conferences, along with satellite events around the globe.
The first full conference hit in 2015, and it’s already growing into one of the largest affiliate conferences in the world.
This year’s edition once again takes place at the Centara Grand in Bangkok on 5-6 December 2018.
Why should I attend?
The conference is both a valuable educational resource and a unique networking opportunity.
Numerous guest speakers and attending companies dispense insight into the trends that will shape the future of our industry, while major players in every category (from super affiliates to newcomers) share experiences and best practices.
In the end, it’s an exciting excuse to meet new people, chat about affiliate marketing and make a connection or learn a lesson that ends up paying for the ticket twice over. The potential value is unquestionable, but each attendee’s takeaway will be unique.
This year is particularly interesting, as it comes during a time of transition for many. You'll find not only affiliate marketing experts and super affiliates, but also a number of high-profile internet marketers who are pushing the boundaries in influencer marketing, joint ventures, new traffic sources and other creative ways to grow an online business.
Who will be there? (Interviews with key speakers)
The team at AWC has gone all-out this year! With more speakers than ever before, you can rest assured that every burning topic on your mind will be addressed by a real, practicing expert. The list of speakers keeps growing, so keep checking back for new names!
To shed some light on what you can expect, we spoke to a few of the speakers about the conference, Bangkok and what you should look out for in their speech:
Dennis Yu (who was one of the original "super affiliates" ten years ago) discusses the rapidly changing landscape, including his views on diversifying traffic sources, the inevitability of becoming a performance marketer and more.
Maor Benaim (who brings the perspective of an agency, business owner and affiliate all at once) breaks down his approach to media buying, including the one mistake you may be making that leaves more money on the table than any other.
Dee Deng sheds light on the reasoning behind Right Hook Digital's rapid rise, along with going into detail on the key challenges that performance agencies must overcome and accommodate to succeed.
Dennis Yu is the Chief Technology Officer of BlitzMetrics, a digital marketing company which partners with schools to train young adults - but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. As one of the preeminent experts on Facebook marketing and ad tech, Dennis has spoken in 17 countries, has been featured in TechCrunch, CNN, and The New York Times (to name a few), contributes regularly to Adweek’s SocialTimes column and has held leadership positions at Yahoo! and American Airlines.
His program at BlitzMetrics centers around mentorship, helping students grow their expertise to manage social campaigns for enterprise clients like the Golden State Warriors, Nike, and Rosetta Stone. This passion for education extends to his speeches - his keynote at AWA is not to be missed! We asked him a few questions about his speech, the shifting affiliate landscape and more:
1. As the CTO of BlitzMetrics and a contributing writer for Adweek (among other marketing publications), your experience extends well beyond the affiliate marketing world. What inspired the decision to speak at Affiliate World Asia?
Whether we admit it or not, we are ALL becoming performance marketers, whether or not we are "affiliates" in the most literal sense of the word.
I was one of the "super affiliates" over ten years ago, back in the Wild West days. And I want to share what's changed since then, so we can all make money in a sustainable way with the ecosystem of brands, products, and networks.
I am excited to see so many affiliates shift into "mission-based" marketing-- to sell because they have mastered telling stories, going beyond reliance on aggressive landing pages.
In particular, we've discovered some cool things that work on Facebook that we want to share.
And instead of worrying about Facebook shutting us down or trying to trick them, we've found ways to work with the system. I was just at Facebook yesterday and the day before for a series of meetings to talk about how we should be using their system in a way that makes us money and won't get us in trouble.
2. Who is the ideal audience member for your speech at AWA, and what can they expect to learn?
Anyone who already has conversions going will be able to "amplify" these results via Facebook. Learn techniques to recycle content, boost posts to drive "implied authority" and "social proof", and use the #MAA technique to systematically troubleshoot large, complex campaigns.
If you don't have large campaigns running, that's okay, too. Learn how to build your personal brand for $1 a day to help you make the right connections at the show and in the industry. Then you'll know what products to promote and where you have maximum advantage-- since you'll know the right people.
Sounds like magic-- but watch the step-by-step recipe that we use, which we want you to try out.
3. At BlitzMetrics, you develop programs for young adults to learn social media marketing. Why did you choose this unique model rather than going the traditional agency route?
Sorry for anyone working in a traditional agency-- you guys are nearly dead, but might not realize it.
If Google, display, and email marketing didn't already kill you, the growth of social, word-of-mouth techniques, and transparent measurement definitely will.
Young adults are hungry and willing to learn. This may sound like a stereotype, but it's been our experience in training up hundreds of people of all ages. I guess you could say "young at heart", since there are folks who are even my age (I'm over 40) who are still able to keep up with changes in the industry.
More specifically, young adults are comfortable with pointing their phones back at them to make one minute videos, which are the key ingredient to be able to drive sales on Facebook.
4. Data-driven marketing is facing more public scrutiny than ever, especially in regards to Facebook. Do you believe the role of data in social media marketing will continue to grow, or should marketers expect tighter restrictions in the near future?
Both-- Cambridge Analytica was a shame, as you probably heard me talk about 5 times when I was interviewed at CNN headquarters on the topic over the last few months.
It's a shame because there was no actual data breach, but a "breach of trust", which then triggered government scrutiny, and then made Facebook feel they had to shut off a lot of cool targeting options.
But just because 3rd party data sources are significantly limited, custom audience counts are hard to get, and ads are harder to get approved-- the ability to do custom audiences, spy on competitors, and leverage Facebook's algo to optimize are stronger than ever.
Logan and I flew to teach the social media managers of the EU countries what GDPR and Cambridge Analytica meant for them. And a lot of this is fear, because people don't really understand what is possible or not.
5. What are you most excited to see or do in Bangkok?
Last time I was in Bangkok, Logan and I stayed on like the 90th floor of the Baiyoke Tower, the tallest building in the city. And we did wakeboarding at Taco Lake, followed by watching a Muay Thai fight ringside and a bunch of cool temple visits. I hope we get similar cool experiences this time around and are able to meet a bunch of cool people at the show!
You can expect plenty of value from someone with such a high level of experience - but there’s no need to wait until his speech. Dennis posts regular updates on his Facebook page, and you can learn more about his latest activities by checking out BlitzMetrics.
After we had published the guide, it was announced that Dennis Yu will not be a speaker at the conference.
Maor “The Wolf” Benaim is one of the most dedicated media buyers in the world. He relentlessly perfects every campaign he comes across, utilizing advanced remarketing techniques across platforms to squeeze every bit of ROI out of them (while also turning small campaigns into big winners). He's highly respected as a thought leader in the online media industry due to the huge numbers he’s achieved as an agency and affiliate, and he currently owns several agencies that run campaigns for the largest retail and leadgen companies in Israel.
We checked in with him to see what’s on the plate for AWA, plus some insight into why he’s taking to the stage more frequently:
1. After more than 10 years of successful behind-the-scenes media buying, you’ve recently taken to the stage to share your experiences at major events like Geek Out, AWE and now AWA. What prompted you to start speaking?
It's been a long ride, no doubt, this actually came as a total surprise even for me because as you said – I'm so used to being the guy behind the scenes. Some rainy day in Tel Aviv, about a year ago, me and James Van Elswyk sat down for a drink and he said that I should do it… my first reaction was like "no way."
Then I started telling myself that I should push myself outside my comfort zone and it could make things a lot more fun for me at those conventions. I always felt like I had so many ideas to share, and I really wanted to be the guy who talks about the real deal, the real technics and the real way of thinking when I'm on stage, and not talk about things that used to work a couple of years ago or should work in theory.
Looking back, I've made one of the best decisions going on stage. The feeling is more than amazing and a lot of the magic – just like in The Geek Out Tour – happens behind the scenes. I feel like we've become this big family and those couple of days hanging around those guys really made me feel like it's been 2 months with them and not 2 days 😊
2. Your diverse portfolio covers social, SEO, native, email and SMS traffic. Which traffic source are you most excited about right now (and why)?
I've been doing and am doing a lot, and since I'm an agency, an affiliate and a business owner, I feel like I get to touch almost every industry, and so I can't really choose one platform or one traffic channel. I feel like that wouldn't be right, because first of all – every channel I use or used – it's like I have a love/hate relationship with it, because sometimes it's soooo hard and sometimes it's amazing to the point where I'm in love with the technology and can't sleep because I'm refreshing all night. And second, not using cross-platform for every campaign is wasting a lot of power through at least retargeting, and that was what my talk was about at AWE.
3. Who is the ideal audience member for your speech at AWA, and what can they expect to learn?
My talks at Affiliate World Conferences are categorized as "advanced" since I'm really touching the platforms, real case studies of my own and real scaling techniques, so I would say my ideal audience member is someone who's already running, and wants to scale or just open his mind for new options, opportunities and way of thinking.
It's less for someone who's new in the industry. I'm always afraid when I talk that it gets too advanced for some people, but then again – it might shorten their way and cut some of the problems I had to face just to learn those ideas.
4. What are you most excited to see or do in Bangkok?
Bangkok last year was so fun, and to be honest, every one of my "affiliate trips" in the last 3 years was no less than life changing. It's either I meet new people who become my partners or I have so much fun and laugh or I learn new stuff that I'm so excited to go back to the room and implement as tests on my campaigns. So I would say that I'm excited about the unknown and what this trip will help me discover about myself.
Want more from Maor?! The first step is to catch his speech at AWA - but you can also find plenty of actionable content on his YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Dee Deng is the co-founder of Right Hook Digital, a rapidly growing ecommerce agency that skyrocketed to 7 figures within its first 14 months of existence. He and his team have helped countless Australian SMBs grow with the power of performance marketing, developing result-oriented campaigns to scale businesses across multiple niches.
When you combine this depth of experience with his electric personality, it’s clear that Dee is a perfect fit for the stage. We asked him a few questions about how an agency operating at Right Hook’s level continues to thrive, plus a hint at what may be the real reason he’s headed to Bangkok…
1. You co-founded and currently serve as Head of Growth at Right Hook Digital - one of Australia’s leading growth marketing agencies, with first-year revenue already above the $1 million mark. How were you able to find success so quickly in such a competitive field?
It's been a wild ride, to say the least! I attribute a lot of our traction to staying hungry and having continually improving systems & processes.
By staying hungry, I mean that we are constantly in the pursuit of the highest levels of strategic & tactical knowledge that we can deploy for our clients, and our company only exists to drive growth and profits for our clients. Literally, our internal motto for why we exist is 'eComm Growth, Motherf**kers!'
Meanwhile, with so many variables & moving parts that determine our client success - it really is our systems & processes that ensure that we can handle any situation with a streamlined approach.
2. You’ve worked with a diverse range of clients across numerous Ecommerce verticals. What are the biggest challenges your clients are facing at the moment, and how are you solving them?
It's interesting how patterns start to emerge once you've worked in multiple verticals - success leaves clues (and the same can be said for the challenges that appear on that journey towards success).
The 'challenge pattern' tends to be: creative, inventory and founder mindset, usually in that order.
Creative: This is where clients usually struggle first, mainly because they're 'product-people' or 'numbers-people' and they either have trouble with coming up with concepts and/or coming up with a healthy amount of creative to deploy. And since we have a creative department that also understands direct response - we are able to help on a strategic, conceptual and execution front. And I'm working hard towards setting up and launching our end-to-end production studio in 2019 too (watch this space!)
Inventory: When you have a target of scaling hard, fast or both - you need the inventory to support it and the customer support to back it up (especially if the client has never experienced that level of operations before). For the most part, this is outside of our control - we simply work with our clients to help them navigate the potential inventory positions and advise on how it may impact their capital position.
Founder mindset: We can be the best at what we do but at the end of the day - it all comes down to the founder of the brand. And being an eComm founder can be tough. We look at our role as 'Advisor To The King' - advising them on what they NEED to hear rather than what they want to hear. From business acumen to media buying, our team brings a wealth of experience to the table - our clients get the full benefit of that experience by having us as their strategic advisors and executors.
3. Who is the ideal audience member for your speech at AWA, and what can they expect to learn?
Literally, anyone who has the desire to build & grow an agency (with all the financial, experiential and network upside that comes from it).
They can expect a non-BS, no-holds-barred perspective and insight into our own growth strategies, as well as how to avoid the stupid mistakes that we made along the way.
4. What are you most excited to see or do in Bangkok?
First and foremost: the food! In all seriousness, I'm most excited about being in Bangkok and sharing good food with good people talking about good sh*t. There are so many clever, hungry and experienced people that will be in Bangkok - and I can't wait to jam with them once again!
If you’re running ecom, Dee has plenty more value to offer you beyond his speech (but that’s a great start) - Right Hook also runs a FB group, eCommerce Heavyweights, and it’s currently a tight-knit hotbed of raw information and tips. Check it out - and stop by Right Hook Digital while you’re at it!
Hungry for more high-level insight? Last year, we interviewed Neil Patel, James Van Elswyk, Sarah Bundy and Jay Lev - you can check out their insights (still highly relevant) in our 2017 AWA guide.
This is you – but it’s more than that. This conference is for the cream of the affiliate marketing crop! You’ll find worthy counterparts for intense discussions about concepts or problems that have been troubling you. You’ll meet other full-time affiliates who have established businesses across numerous verticals with unique strategies to help them grow. The conference is slick and well-designed. Affiliate World Asia delivers a valuable experience with a level of polish that few other conferences in the affiliate world can rival.
Looking to meet like-minded affiliates and/or advertisers? There’s no better way than the official AWAsia Networking App! Download it now and start making connections before the event.
The detailed event schedule has not been released yet, but here's what you can expect:
Meet Market - Day 1 & 2: This is the main event for many. Hundreds of vendors will set up camp in the main conference area, pitching their products and services to passers-by. It's a great place to get a quick overview of the industry, plus find new opportunities around every corner.
Speeches and Panels - Day 1 & 2: We're tempted to say that this is the best series of speakers we've ever seen, but to be fair, the speakers at Affiliate World events are always outstanding. You'll find interesting keynotes and panels throughout both conference days. Schedule your time wisely to make as many as possible!
Networking Mixers - Day 1 & 2: You could find your next business partner or breakthrough opportunity at these intimate networking mixers. They're focused on specific topics, allowing you to meet with like-minded entrepreneurs in a comfortable, business-oriented setting.
Night Networking - Night 1 & 2: This is where business and pleasure truly meet. AWA will host multiple evening events that bring together the most enthusiastic members of the industry in a casual, networking-oriented party setting. Just be sure to bring business cards - despite the memorable conversations you'll have, not all of them stick the next day...
Some of these events will fill up, so be sure to RSVP ahead of time.
Huge thanks to Hen and Mitesh for putting this together (and Nick Peplow for originating the concept)!
3. THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN BANGKOK
The infamous Thai smile. What does it mean? Most will never know.
Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles, and with so much to do and see, you shouldn’t have any problem finding a reason to grin (or sin - but don’t get in trouble as you do, unless you know how to bribe). We’ve compiled a few main attractions (and how to get the most out of them) below.
Thai culture has developed over thousands of years and is evident in all aspects of everyday life. Family, patriotism, the physical body and even superstitions are eminently valued; monks are held in high regard, to the extent that you should give your seat up on the bus if one enters. Approximately 95% of the country is Theraveda Buddhist, and its 700+ year history in the region has resulted in a plethora of Buddhas, temples and other symbols of this ancient religion.
Here are a few quick tips to help you adapt:
Status is essential. Your status determines the wai (traditional greeting) you receive, and your status is not fixed by birth; you can improve or worsen your status depending on your age, education, income level, family connections and more.
This means that respect and “saving face” are ingrained into Thai culture - for example, yelling at someone is considered extremely disrespectful, and can encourage them to defend themselves with more intensity than you might experience elsewhere.
The flip side to this is a tendency to appear relaxed in public, as it’s impolite to display extreme emotions like stress or anger. You may come across the phrase “mai bpen rai” which loosely translates to “no worries” and is used when small mistakes occur.
Patriotism is a part of everyday life. A few years ago, the King of Thailand passed away, which led many AWA attendees to speculate about the national mourning period that followed. As a visitor, you get more of a pass than others, but this has its limits - we recommend paying close attention to patriotic symbols and offering them the same respect as your hosts.
Yes doesn’t always mean yes. Thai people rarely say “no” outright, as they do not want to disappoint or offend others. Beware when receiving directions or making plans!
Finally, note that Thailand is the Land of Smiles - but also, that smiles can mean many things. Sometimes, people smile simply to hide their current state of distress or even to manipulate unsuspecting visitors. This is not to say that you should treat every smile with skepticism… but do be wary!
More notes on the King
The King is a very important figure in Thailand. He’s revered by locals and treated almost like a deity. You’re not allowed to step on currency because his image is on it, and penalties for disgracing him can carry serious fines (as in jail or death).
A big thanks to Julie Larson for her contribution to this section (along with more excellent input throughout)!
Temples and Buddhas
Thailand is famous for its elaborate temples and intricate Buddhas. There’s plenty of literature on the web about each one, but we’re keeping the conference in mind with this list - they’re all relatively close to the main event. A few are even clustered together, making for a nonstop temple trip.
Wat Pho: This is one of the largest and well-known temples, featuring a reclining Buddha with outstanding architecture and plenty to see. It’s also famous for its massage therapists; many Thai massage parlors proudly claim that their masseuses were trained at Wat Pho.
Wat Arun: Colorful, tall and ornate, identified by its intricate spires, Wat Arun is one of the most visually stunning temples. It’s on the other side of the river from Wat Pho, so it's a bit of a journey, but worth it.
Wat Saket: Featuring an unmistakable golden tower that you might even be able to see from your hotel (if it’s close to the convention center), Wat Saket overlooks Bangkok beneath what seems to be a golden crown wrapped in white linen, surrounded by lush greenery. Nearby and worth it.
With ornate designs and rich colors, Thai temples are lasting icons that represent thousands of years of culture.
Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing: One of the most iconic temples in town. Be warned: the “giant swing” sounds way cooler than it is. It’s just a couple wooden poles where a swing used to be; they took it down ~80 years ago.
Wat Ratchanatdaram & Loha Prasat: The temple is Wat Ratchanatdaram, and Loha Prasat is the highlight: it’s a massive, multi-tiered structure that symbolizes the 37 virtues toward enlightenment. It’s modeled after similar Loha Parasada in Sri Lanka and India, giving it a cross-cultural vibe that takes you a bit outside the traditional Thai you’ll find at the other temples.
Wat Mahathat: One of the oldest temples, its mystical history is reinforced by fortune tellers and a Sunday amulet market (complete with religious charms, talismans, amulets and traditional medicine spread on the ground). Choose wisely and enjoy good luck for the rest of your life. Choose poorly, and the ground will split while you evaporate into bones and disappear from existence. Maybe. We’re not really sure how it works.
Muay Thai is an exciting, dangerous Thai tradition.
Muay Thai may not be the only form of Thai martial arts (there’s also Krabi Krabong, which is pretty awesome in its own right), but it’s the form everyone knows best. Not only is it a highly effective addition to an MMA arsenal, it’s been used to resolve large-scale conflicts between kingdoms and is an integral, highly respected part of Thai culture.
If you want to see a live fight, you have a few options:
Rajadamnern: This is one of the two largest venues for fights. Gambling is legal and encouraged on the 2nd level. Tickets range from ฿1000-2000. Bouts are on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 18:30. Tickets and more info: www.rajadamnern.com/
Lumpinee: The other largest venue. Very busy and loud, it’s perhaps the best way to get the local experience. Tickets range from ฿200-2000. Bouts are Tuesdays and Fridays from 18:30; Saturday between 17:00 and 20:00; and Saturday nights from 20:30. Tickets and more info: http://www.muaythailumpinee.net/en/
Channel 7 Stadium: This one is free (or you can get a VIP ticket for ฿300) and operated by the Royal Thai Army. The fights are broadcast live and they want an audience. Bouts occur every Sunday and third Wednesday of the month (Sundays at 13:45, Wednesdays at noon). More info: http://muaythai-world.com/channel-7-stadium-bangkok/
Along with these arenas, there are lots of fights at temples, on the streets (organized, don’t worry), at random event halls… it’s everywhere as long as you’re looking for it. Ask the reception at your hotel to see if there are any local matches or events happening nearby.
Something we learned from last year's event: ticket prices are different for foreigners than they are for locals. There's not much you can do about it other than ask around for the best prices. It's all subject to change depending on your appearance. That's just Thailand for ya.
Decide to hop in the ring for a quick Muay Thai bout that didn't work out? Don't sweat - Thailand is famous for its high-quality medical care! In fact, it’s so highly regarded that it’s become a popular tourist destination for those seeking reliable, affordable care. Some hospitals even feel like 5-star hotels.
We hope you don’t need to use this list… but if you’re in the market for a quick amputation, some casual brain surgery or maybe just a checkup, there are few better places in the world. Here are a few of Bangkok's best:
Fun fact: medical tourism is actually an ancient practice! Thousands of years ago, Greek pilgrims traveled to the Saronic Gulf territory of Epidauria, which was believed to be the location of a healing god’s sanctuary. (They were probably disappointed.)
Street markets are the juxtaposition of the calm floating markets Thailand is famous for: they’re often hectic, busy and full of people who have something they need to do right now, and you’re in their damn way! Don’t be discouraged, though. There’s hardly a more authentic experience than picking up some street food while perusing flowers and trinkets amongst the locals.
A big thanks to Nerd Nomads for helping with this list; their full guide can be found here.
Authentic artifacts and cheap knock-offs can be found side-by-side at many Thai markets.
Chatuchak Weekend Market: This is the mother of all Bangkok street markets. It’s not just big… it’s one of biggest street markets in the world, divided into 27 sections that span more than a square kilometer. 200,000+ people visit every day, from wandering tourists to restaurant owners and street vendors stocking up on wares for the day. Get there early to beat the crowd.
Pak Klong Talat Flower Market: Open 24 hours, this bright flower and vegetable market is busiest in the evening when boats and trucks arrive bringing fresh supplies for the evening and following day.
Klongsan Market: Not very touristy, this market specializes in clothes and jewelry (some authentic, some… err, let’s just say “not so authentic”). There are food stands as well. Expect cheap prices and usually quality to match.
Klong Toey Fresh Market: Aptly named, this market focuses on freshness; fresh seafood, meat prepared on the spot, vegetables and exotic fruit delivered regularly… they even kill the fish right before your eyes. Which might actually not be a selling point for some of you. (Toughen up! You know fresh death makes it taste better!)
Bangkok Farmers Market: One of the coolest new markets in town. It’s quite different from the rest on this list: the traveling event (new location every week) was started by a collective of farmers who are focused on healthy living. They offer yoga instruction, education about farming, charity programs and all sorts of healthy new age stuff. (Ever tried worm tea? Don’t. But you can get it there.) This one gets our recommendation, but good luck finding it: the market pops up at various places around town. Visit their Facebook page for up-to-date info.
Pratunam Market: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure trash that he is trying to sell at this market. It’s a bunch of junk and random crap in a popular tourist area. Which, of course, makes it one of the most interesting and must-see markets in town.
Chaotic and calm converge at the floating markets of Bangkok.
Floating markets are a unique way to explore local culture while enjoying serene quiet (as opposed to the loud, crowded markets on the streets of Bangkok). Many of these are located further away from the city, so they may require a day trip. If it’s something you’re into and you have the time, we highly recommend going.
You may have to zoom out on our map to find some of these:
Amphawa: The Amphawa floating market stands out for its authenticity. Visitors report it as a fun environment with happy shopkeepers offering souvenirs, sweets and snacks to enjoy from your boat. It starts a bit later in the day, so you have a bit more time in the morning to make the 90km trek from Bangkok’s city center.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market: This one is far away (100km from the city center) and is known for being overrun with tourists during peak hours. That said, it’s one of the most famous floating markets for a reason: you won’t walk away disappointed by the market itself (but the crowds could pose a threat to your experience).
Taling Chan: Very calm and quiet (plus near Bangkok: it’s only 12km from the city center), this is a neighborhood floating market that is more commonly frequented by locals than tourists. Near Khlong Lat Mayom.
Khlong Lat Mayom: This “fruit-forward” floating market is small and very local, with hardly any tourists. The focus is on sweets and fruits, and it’s near Taling Chan. If you prefer the idea of small neighborhood markets to the hustle-and-bustle of bigger ones, then we suggest a trip to both (easily combined in a day due to their proximity).
Bang Nam Pheung: With only six boats, it’s barely a floating market – there are no cruises, either. It’s only 20km away, but taxis might not know how to get there. If you can’t decide between the larger, more popular markets and the Taling Chan/Khlong Lat Mayom combo, this is a good middle ground. Check out Lat Pho Park on your way (just ask your taxi driver to go to “สวนสุขภาพ ลัดโพธิ์”). Very interesting food, in a really nice location (“The Lung of Bangkok”) with lots of nature.
Traditional Thai massages
Thai massages are famous for being rejuvenating – in the most intense, painful way you can imagine. These women can break your spine with the flick of a fingernail. Just make sure you pay and they (probably) won’t do that.
Note: for most massages, you don’t get naked. Wear loose-fitting clothing for best results. Some places may have clothes you can borrow.
Wat Pho: You’ll find plenty of opportunities for a massage in the area surrounding the famous Wat Pho temple. This is probably the most authentic place to get a massage, but beware of scammers (okay, they’re not really scamming, they’re just giving shitty massages) and be ready to wait. You can try calling ahead, but we got these numbers from the internet and have no idea who might answer: 02-221-2974 or 02-225-4771
Traditional Thai massage
฿420 for 1 hour
฿260 for 30 minutes
฿420 for 1 hour
฿280 for 30 minutes
Health Land: This is probably the safest bet. It’s a chain with many locations throughout Bangkok. Prices are nice and the massage therapists are quite good. They’re like Chipotle, but for massages.
Traditional Thai Massage
฿550 for 2 hours
Aromatherapy Body Massage
฿950 for 1.5 hours
฿300 for 1 hour
To be frank... they’re called Thai massages, and you’ll be in Thailand. It won’t be hard to find one (there will even be a massage booth on-site at AWA). Aside from the above options, you’ll find plenty of experts throughout the city, and the scam risk is pretty low – your biggest risk is that it won’t be a great massage, and you should be keeping an eye on your valuables anyway. Most massage pavilions in Bangkok can be trusted to deliver the terribly painful (and totally replenishing) experience you’re looking for.
Don’t let Bangkok take you. (Or do. Maybe that’s more fun.)
Nightlife in Bangkok is world famous, and part of the fun is in wandering around and getting lost in the chaos. When you only have a few days, though, it’s smart to plan a bit ahead. Previously, Nicky Cakes and the fine folks at STM put together a solid list of clubs around the area (which we’ve also added to our map). We'll keep updating this section as new events pop up.
Note: As the conference nears, more parties will pop up. Stay tuned for more AWA-specific party suggestions!
If you’re looking for more than just a table at a club, the options below are great starting points to begin a full night out on the town:
Asiatique The Riverfront: This isn’t a club or street, it’s a “lifestyle complex” complete with shopping, restaurants, attractions, clubs and yes, probably some thieves and scammers. It’ll be busy, but you won’t run out of things to do.
Khao San Road Night Market: Known for its silver trade during the day, at night it becomes “the ultimate backpacker party hub” for travelers looking to reminisce with fellow globetrotters about their wild experiences (while creating a few new ones). Fans of the area recommend The Club (great name, right?), Lava Club and Brick Bar.
Soi Thong Lo 10 (Thonglor): This is a great area to see how locals like to party. Check out Funky Villa/Demo (2 clubs in 1), Escobar (clever name, usually free entry), Do Not Disturb (for EDM), or Safe House (where the party usually goes late into the night).
Soi Sukhumvit 11: Used to be a seedy area, but it’s up and coming now. Explore the rooftop bars or get a cheap beer at the aptly named Cheap Charlie’s. Visit Oscar or Marshmallow for a more accurate, sophisticated depiction of the area’s new direction.
Silom Road: Boring and plain by day, party place by night. Check out Cloud 47 (rooftop bar) for scenery, or wander along Sois 2 and 4 to catch up on the thriving gay scene (don’t miss DJ Station for that). Or kick it with go-go dancers just around the corner at Patpong on Soi 6. There’s something for everyone here.
Romance - Apples & Bananas
We’ve received some tips regarding romance from Gerard (aka Mr. Romance), a local expat:
To begin, Thailand is often referred to as the Land of Smiles for countless reasons, but when it comes to romance, foreigners are exotic to say the least. They have a local term for white guys called “Farang” and it does help to break the ice if the girl is single and interested.
Thai people are kind, helpful and respectful, so if you see that someone special, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself :)
Go-Go-Going out on Soi Cowboy
This short Soi wastes no time (or space) when it comes to packing in the action. Named after the cowboy-hat-wearing American who started the first bar there, it's one of Bangkok's notorious red light districts (what - you thought those were only in Amsterdam?) and features a blindingly bright array of Go-Go bars - essentially strip clubs with exotic dancers.
Scams are all over the place, and everyone's in on it. You can definitely have a great time, but expect to pay for it.
The laws on prostitution are a bit fuzzy - it's more tolerated than it is straight-up legal. This results in some odd customs - for example, you must pay a bar fine if you'd like some company. This payment only frees the girl from her shift - you still need to negotiate for "services". Prices range depending on the bar, your appearance and the girl.
Each Go-Go bar has a different theme and way of doing things. Do a bit of research if you're particular about your experience.
Crawling along Soi 11
According to Mr. Romance, this is a very good Soi with a lot of good places to hang out and tons of tourists.
Mixx Discotheque:Late-night Club. In the Intercontinental Hotel – this is not on Soi 11 but is a short cab ride away. Peak times are 1am – 5am.
In addition, we've received a semi-anonymous tip for the ladyboy musical Calypso Cabaret. According to our source, it "sounds f*ed up but is actually nice to go to!" - probably a great time to be had if you're with a group looking for an over-the-top Thai experience!
And finally, one special tip from Matt Martorano:
Remember, if they got an apple, they got a banana.
Beyond Bangkok: 6 places to visit before or after AWA
Looking to wind down after the action? Or perhaps get off to a strong start with a warmup adventure? We've compiled 6 of our favorite spots near Thailand that are perfect for a quick trip (or extended cooldown) before or after the conference. Check it out here: 6 Must-see Travel Destinations Near Affiliate World Asia 2018
Meet Advidi there
Like always, we'll be at the Meet Market on both days with a full team. Stop by and say hi – we’ll be at at Booth B20, near the center of the exhibition. We’re excited to meet performance marketers from around the world, whether you work with us already or not!
Join the Circle of Strength
Introducing: Advidi’s Circle of Strength. An ever-expanding network of trusted individuals who work together to accomplish greater things; an homage to Thai tradition - inspired by the people who conform to its promises, encapsulated by the permanence of ancient Sak Yant tattoo symbolism.
Meet the Advidi team traveling to Bangkok:
A bit about us
Advidi is a global performance marketing network based in Amsterdam, with fast guaranteed payments, an internal Business Intelligence team, exclusive in-house creatives, 140+ GEOs and thousands of offers (including many exclusives across the world).
We believe in putting people before profits, which means we focus on developing long-term relationships with affiliates and advertisers alike. Our primary verticals are Dating, iGaming, Health & Beauty, Gaming and Mainstream, while our focus is on helping our partners find exclusive offers, optimize campaigns and deliver the best possible traffic to our trusted advertisers.
We can’t hide our excitement. Follow our social media channels for updates on the event, industry news and more useful stuff to help you get in the Affiliate World Asia 2018 mindset. Feel free to book a meeting below... and if you found this guide useful, please help us build the anticipation by sharing it!