The Jim Thompson House is a actually not one house – it’s several connected houses on a compound that once belonged to Thai silk magnate Jim Thompson. He was quite an interesting character – he worked for the CIA and mysteriosly disappeared in the Malaysian highlands, leaving behind a sizeable business involved in the Thai silk trade.
He was the one who popularized Thai silk as a luxury good among foreigners, and it’s probably largely due to his salesmanship and marketing skills that Thai silk is today as popular as it is. At that time, most Thais who could afford to wear Thai silk weren’t interested in traditional Thai clothing, but instead more eager to emulate Western fashion.
He was also an avid collector of ancient South-East Asian art – and today, some of the pieces that can be found in his house are priceless. This museum is open to visitors every day, and in fact is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand.
It’s also interesting to see, because in the concrete jungle of Bangkok, this place is a little green oasis – Jim Thompson loved the “jungle feeling” that he created by letting tropical plants grow all over his one rai estate (one rai is about half an acre).
You can learn a lot about traditional Thai architecture when you come here – the buildings are contructed in a rather simple, yet highly functional manner. In fact, traditional Thai houses were almost always made out of Teak wood, which was readily available in many places in Thailand before shady businessmen and powerful army generals made fortunes with illegal logging teak wood forrests. The houses can also easily be dismantled, which makes it easier for elements to be dismantled and then transported to another location. (Many traditional Thai houses that you can see in Bangkok aren’t originally from Bangkok, but from the country side. They were taken apart – Thai houses were built that way, so that you can actually take the walls apart, columns, the roof and different other elements and easily bring it to another location and rebuild the whole house there).
You can go there on your own, as you always get to go with a tour guide, and it costs just 100 Baht to enter. The Jim Thompson house opens at 9 AM and the last tour takes place at 5 PM.
You can go there by taxi or just get on the BTS skytrain and get off at “National Stadium” station.
Jim Thompson House
6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, Bangkok
Tel: (662) 216-7368 Fax: (662) 612-3744