Not the biggest attraction in Bangkok, but to my mind one of the best.
The Jim Thompson House is a wonderful example of Thai architecture right in the centre of commercial Bangkok. The house is made up of a collection of traditional Thai teak wood buildings lovingly reconstructed on the canalside near Siam Square. The 6 structures each come from different parts of Thailand with the oldest building dating back to the early 19th Century.
The house was created by American businessman Jim Thompson in the 1950s. The project owes much to Jim’s early career as a New York architect. When the Second World War broke out Jim embarked on a new career in the service of the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, undertaking intelligence activities all over the world. When the war ended Jim ended up in Bangkok and after a stint redesigning the Oriental Hotel he started a business exporting Thai Silk. He is credited with turning Thai silk into an international brand and the Jim Thompson Company remains today a major exporter of Thai silk products around the world. There is a shop at the Jim Thompson House where you can buy high quality silk products.
During his time in Bangkok, Jim Thompson was a major player in the local social scene. The house was built as a setting for his famous dinner parties attended by the rich and famous, great and good, as they passed through Bangkok. The house is a major throwback to the romance of colonial Indo-China. It is now a museum kept in pretty much the same state as when Jim left it. He disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the Malaysian jungle in 1967 adding to the legend of Jim Thompson.
Jim Thompson was a voracious collector of art and antiquities and they adorn the house. He also gave careful thought to the garden which I can only describe as being uniquely Asian and jungle-like.
There is a pretty good restaurant at the Jim Thompson House as well,which is fitting considering his preoccupation with throwing dinner parties. It’s open for lunch from 11am to 5pm and dinner from 7pm to 11pm. You have a choice of sitting inside or on the verandah by the pond.
To get to the Jim Thompson House take the sky train to National Stadium BTS station. It’s a short walk from there. The address is 6 Soi Kaseman 2, Rama 1 Road. It’s open from 9am to 5pm and costs 100 Thai Baht for adults ($3.3) and 50 Thai Baht for children and students.
If you fancy seeing some nice Thai architecture, and fulfilling your dreams of experiencing the glamour of colonial Indo-China, it’s well worth the trip.