I have been to The Jim Thompson House in Bangkok and it’s a great place for people interested in architecture or artwork.
Jim Thompson was a silk entrepreneur and art collector. Born in the USA in 1906, former architect, Thompson served the Office of Strategic Services (CIA) in Thailand during WWII. After the war he settled in Bangkok where he quickly became interested in the silk industry and began to invest.
He decided to start a textile business, the Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company. Then sent some products to London, Paris, and Milan, and his business quickly grew up. Thompson was very successful and his goods are still sold around the world today.
While living in Thailand, he became intrigued by Thai architecture and wanted to build a house that was based on the traditional style of Thai houses. His house became famous due to it’s opulence and traditional details. But in 1960 Jim Thompson took a trip to Malaysia and disappeared. His house has been donated to the city of Bangkok and today is a city attraction.
Before visiting The Jim Thompson House I was a bit in doubt. I wasn’t sure about how it will gonna be, if worth paying 150 baht to visit a traditional Thai house of an vanished expat guy…. Well, I took a chance and went there at same day at BACC and Yelo House.
As soon as I arrived in front of The Jim Thompson House I was directly directed towards paying the 150 baht ticket. I couldn’t even see the shop or the restaurant first. With my ticket and a briefing about Jim Thompson in hands, I was guided to the house. Some Thai young women in traditional clothes booked my guided tour and I just had to wait less than 10 minutes.
When then call our tour B, we were about 15 people. To start everyone had to take off shoes and leave belongings into a locker. Photos are not allowed inside The Jim Thompson House.
Inside the house we learned about the elevated doorways that led to many of the rooms of the house, which involved having to step over the bottom of them to get into each room. They were elevated to keep bad spirits out.
The Jim Thompson House actually incorporates six traditional Thai houses. The architecture made the house feel more open than it was. The hallways were outdoors and for the living room led straight into it through massive doors that opened wide and make the house cooler during hot days. Also there’s a view to the canal. I must to say the house is wonderful, but even being built by an expat, still a Thai-style home.
Our guide was lovely, she explain each room about why Thai Houses are built that way and about all the art pieces that Jim Thompson collected. Most from China and some are unique pieces. We spent 40 minutes in the tour and then we were free to walk around the house.
Inside the Jim Thompson House complex there are exhibition spaces, restaurant, silk products shop and a lovely green garden. I recommend visiting the Jim Thompson House if you are interested in architecture or artwork. And also if you want the feeling of old times in place full of green and a traditional house. Otherwise, if your time is short, I recommend explore other parts of Bangkok, because is a huge city full of true traditional history.