Despite a number of visits to Bangkok, we had yet to make time to see the museum at Jim Thompson's House. American entrepreneur James H.W. Thompson, who is credited with reviving the supposedly dying Thai silk weaving industry. Whatever the truth of this legend, he made a great success in popularising and modernising the industry after the 2nd world war. A tribute to his success was the appearance in Bangkok of rival weaving businesses, which rose following the success of Thompson's business.
The Jim Thompson House was constructed between 1958 and 1959, and magnificently showcases his art collection. The location, alongside a klong (canal) across from Bangkrua, where at that time his weavers were located. It is constructed from from parts of six antique Thai houses. Most of the 19th-century houses were dismantled and moved from Ayutthaya, but the largest, a weaver's house (the living room), came from Bangkrua.
It is a well organised museum, and can only be visited by scheduled guided tours. Whilst waiting for ones tour time, the lush gardens are a pleasure in which to wander. We were struck most by the ‘lonely fish’, solitary in his very own pot. Our choice was to take the French tour, which not only meant we did not need to listen to the commentary by the dull tour guide spiel, we got much more time to look at the structure of the buildings, and it many fine artifacts, because we were not expected to listen intently to the commentary. We overheard the English tour commentary on the way around, and seeing the glazed looks on the faces of the victims, we were delighted with our choice.
This is one of those places where one is not permitted to take photos inside the buildings. This is probably to speed the tours along, so folk do not dilly dally. In the courtyard dancers perform for waiting folk. Entry price is 150 Baht (2015). Hours are from 9am to 6pm. The on site shop is interesting for a browse, through prices are high.
A fascinating house of an even more fascinating man - Jim Thompson has created some recent history in Bangkok and created one of its most top tourist attractions. In life, Jim Thompson was the son of a wealthy American textile manufacture who signed up for war service with the OSS - the forerunner of the CIA. He found himself posted to Thailand, where he built up the Thai Silk industry into a global force. He made a fortune but then disappeared mysteriously on a trip to Malaysia. The rumours surrounding his death have never been entirely dispelled.
The house is a reflection of the man - a mixture of Thai and Western architecture. It contains some unique interpretations of Thai style, adapted to suit his business and social needs. It also contains some incredible pieces of Thai and Asian art, some of it rescued from destruction. The house itself is known as "the House on the Klong", and while you take the guided tour you will hear the boats churning up the waters of the klong as they cruise past.
It's a beautiful building, and the grounds are cool and pleasant to wander while you wait for your tour to begin. There's even a decent restaurant attached.
Jim Thompson House
A small museum in the heart of Bangkok. The architecture is the first think that u see here, a Thai style house.
Name: Jim Thompson House
Theme: Thai style house, Museum
Location: Near Siam
Pictures in the web: Jim Thompson House
Last Visit: September 2006
First Photo: Jim Thompson House
Tucked down a little side street no more than a five minute stroll from the sky train is the house of Jim Thompson.. An architect who had served with the US army in the Second World War, Thompson is widely credited with revitalising the Thai silk industry.
The gardens are a lush oasis and whilst waiting for your tour to begin you can wander around parts of them. You can only go through the museum with a tour guide but tours are regular and conducted in many languages. The house actually comprises of six separate teak houses that Thompson, a prolific art collector, acquired on his travels through Thailand. They were dismantled and brought back to Bangkok to be rebuilt on the present site on the canal opposite where his weavers were then located. Thompson adhered to the customs of the early builders elevating the buildings a full story above ground and using roof tiles that were fired in Ayudhya. The traditional religious rituals were followed during construction even down to Thompson moving in on. a day considered as a auspicious by astrologers.
The houses are filled with art works and items that Thompson collected on his travels through countries such as Burma, Cambodia as well as Thailand.
It is well worth taking a look inside the Jim Thompson Art Centre above the shop as they have some fantastic exhibitions there that are free of charge to enter.
The house is open daily from 09:00 - 17:00, the last tour is at 16:30. You must go on a tour with one of the guides and this costs 100 baht.
Tucked inside a lush area of green trees and plants, the house is impressive for it's simple and traditional design that includes triangle roofs, strong teakwood from Northern forests, and serene garden areas....
Jim Thompson lived in Thailand for 25 years and was the founder of the Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company which has become famous worldwide and revitalized the Thai Silk Industry. He was awarded the Order of the White Elephant, a decoration bestowed upon foreigners for having rendered exceptional service to Thailand.
Sadly in 1967 Jim Thompson disappeared while on holiday in the Cameroon Highlands in Malaysia which is another story which is covered well in numerous books. It was after reading some of these books that I decided I wanted to see the house he lived in plus the beautiful jungle gardens, which were designed by William Warren who also designed the stunning gardens at Mom Tri's Villa Royale in Phuket!
This magnificent house is actually 6 different old Thai houses that were bought in and reassembled from various places around Thailand to make one large beautiful house, no nails are used and Jim also reversed some walls so he could see the beautiful carved woodwork from inside his house.
The house is built on Klong Maha Nag and everyday Jim would row across to see his silk weavers. Now there is a large fence separating the house from the Klong, but it is easy to imagine what life use to be like along this waterway. Jim Thompson loved entertaining and there were dinner parties nearly every night.
Jim Thompson was also a collector of beautiful painting, statues and antiques from all over South East Asia and many of these are on display at his house. No photos are allowed to be taken inside the house.
There is also a lovely restaurant and bar here plus a small shop selling books and various silk products.
Being here was an absolute highlight for me, I have been a Jim Thompson fan for quite a few years and to actually visit his house which has not changed much since he lived there was such an experience, it is a beautiful oasis from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.
The Jim Thompson House is on Soi Kasemsan (2) Song which is opposite the National Stadium on Rama I Rd. It is open everyday from 9am – 5pm and the guided tours are 100baht.
Click here for more photos and info!
Jim Thompson is probably one of the most famous ex-pats to have traveled through Thailand (along with Anna, of the King and I fame). Stationed here first during WWII, he fell in love with the people, the architecture, and the fabric. A business sense told him to work to build up the local Thai silk industry, and he turned it into a global fashion presence.
He took up residence in Bangkok, and had several houses, representing different Thai architectural styles, moved to Bangkok and re-assembled. He then filled it with antiques of cultural relevance and lived there until the mid 1960s, when he disappeared hiking in Malaysia (a mystery that has never been solved). Today the house is open to the public as a museum, and you can see the home he built, as well as the industry he elevated to international renown.
The houses are all beautiful, with wooden floors and lavish appointments. Tours are given frequently (every 15 minutes or so) in a variety of languages, including English, German, and Japanese (so I saw while I was there). The cost runs about 100 bhat for adults, half that for students. The one downside is there is no photography allowed in the houses themselves; you can photograph outside and in the gardens, but not within the structures.
There is also a shop, where you can purchase the pricey silk goods that his company still produces, and a cafe for lunch or a snack alongside one of the pools of his gardens. It is an interesting, and perhaps unexpected, blending of cultures and history in this house.
This sight is a very easy walk from the National Stadium sky train station - around 5 minutes. Ignore any idiots who tell you it is closed, or offer to take you on a 20 baht tuk tuk ride. It is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Entry is 100 baht and you have to go around on a guided tour.
The house belonged to Jim Thomson an American businessman and designer who settled in Bangkok just after World War 11 and helped revitalise the Thai silk industry. The village where his workers made the silk was just on the other side of the canal from his home.
Thompson brought the houses that made up his home from different parts of Thailand. All the houses are traditional Thai wooden houses. They are built without nails, the pieces of the houses slot together.
As well as being famous for revitalising the Thai silk industry Thompson is famous for suddenly and mysteriously disappearing while taking a stroll in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. There are many theories about his disappearance: was he deliberately killed? Did he stage his own disappearance. no-one knows.
There is a lovely cool cafe at the sight. There was also a free exhibition above the Jim Thompson shop which displayed many silk dresses, showed a film about Thompson's life and disappearance and had many interesting news clippings from the dates he lived in Thailand. These included stories about the disputed temples Thailand and Cambodia are currently fighting over, but from when the dispute arose around 50, 60 years ago; a horrible story about a Chinese man who killed and ate Thai children and became a kind of Thai bogeyman with mother's threatening their children that he would come and eat them if they did not go to bed right now and reports about con men ripping off tourists and the need to do something about it from the 1950s. Worth a look.
I recently visited Jim Thompson's House and recommend that you try the restaurant. The food is great and it is a lovely atmosphere. This makes a great tourist attraction into a fantastic one!
Take time to look around the house on one of the guided tours and enjoy your afternoon. After viewing the house and hearing the history, make sure you have a look in the Jim Thompson store and view the world class Thai Silk collection!
Hope you all enjoy the outing. More info can be found at:
Thaistyle World Travel Guide
In the Bangkok Travel Guide
Jim Thompson's house makes for a good excursion. This dwelling combines six teak buildings which represent the best of traditional Thai architecture. Most of the houses are at least two centuries old and were easily dismantled and brought to the present site, some from as far away as the old capital of Ayutthaya. He adhered to the customs of the early builders in most respects. The houses are elevated a full story above the ground and the roof tiles were fired in Ayutthaya employing a design common centuries ago. The red paint on the outside walls is a preservative commonly found on many old Thai buildings. The chandeliers were came from 18th and 19th century Bangkok palaces.
Jim Thompson was an American who volunteered for service in the U.S. Army, campaigned in Europe, and came to Asia as part of the force that planned to liberate Thailand. However, the war ended before the operation. He arrived in Bangkok a short time later as a military intelligence officer attached to the O.S.S. After leaving the service, he decided to return and live in Thailand permanently. While in Thailand, Jim Thompson, and he devoted himself to reviving the craft of hand-weaving silk. He contributed greatly to the industry's growth and to the worldwide recognition of Thai silk. His dwelling showed a great love of Thai culture. Thompson disappeared after going on a walk in the Cameron Highlands in Pahang, Malaysia, on March 27, 1967. He was never found, and there are many theories for his disappearance.
The hours of admission are 09:00am to 5:00pm everyday. In order to see the house you must go on a guided tour with the last one at 4:30pm. It costs 100 baht (2006).
Exploring the house of ex-CIA agent which had interest in Thai silk and Asia cultures. His absence (or in other word "missing") after having lunch at Cameron Highland, Malaysia still a mystery nowadays! Then the story of James Harrison Wilson Thompson a.k.a Jim Thompson became a legend.
Entrance fee: 100 Baht
It's prohibited to take pictures at the main building also upstairs. But taking at both the left and right sides in the first floor is allowed. Here I feel in an unique Asia museum! Nice place, enjoyable and I forgot the time just passing by :)