The most Famous Foreigner in Thailand
The Jim Thompson House Museum in Bangkok is an absolutely fabulous place to spend some real quiet time away from all the hustle and bustle of active city life. It’s situated right in the heart of the central capital and is open daily to the public.
Are you aware that this house museum is the second most visited tourist site in Bangkok after the Royal Palace and rightfully so too? It should definitely be high on your list of priorities. Should you decide to go, you won’t be disappointed.
To give you a little background on how the museum came about, it was designed and built by Thailand’s most famous foreigner during the 1950s. His name was Jim Thompson. Now, although Thompson had studied architecture back home at the University of Pennsylvania, he never completed his degree. He did, however, practise the art form in New York City designing summer homes.
Jim Thompson had come to Thailand from America after World War II and fell in love with the exotic texture of the place and decided to stay. You have to understand that Bangkok was vastly different during the fifties and sixties.
In doing so, Jim saw an opportunity to help revitalise the silk and textile industry in Thailand, which at the time had fallen into decay. Prior to this, the industry had simply been a dying craft practised in a few households.
Construction began on the house in the mid-fifties and was completed in 1959. It’s built from six different traditional teak houses found around the central parts of the country. All the walls in the house were actually reassembled from the inside out or the other way round depending how you view it.
The house is steeped in historical drama and mystical intrigue, but it also houses an impressive collection of art, antiques and artefacts from all over Southeast Asia. Jim was an avid collector of traditional Thai art as well as other rare and unique collectables. He was known to travel throughout Asia to find the right stuff. His legendary knowledge of art grew in proportion to his epic life.
Jim Thompson House Guided Tours
There are ongoing guided tours you can join should you want to know more about the life and times of this legendary foreigner from afar. After the tour, you can spend a penny at the gift shop where you will find many wonderful excellent-quality gifts. You can also have something to drink and eat at the new bar and restaurant all the while overlooking a large pond.
The tranquil setting of the museum provides a great alternative to the chaos of the streets of Bangkok. The house is set in the heart of the capital on one of the canals and is surrounded by lush vegetation. If you need to get away from the noise and pollution and want some peace and quiet, this is the place to be.
You can easily take the Skytrain to the Jim Thompson House Museum from several stations around Bangkok or if you prefer, simply hop in a taxi. If you are going to use the Skytrain, then take the Silom Line to the National Stadium. The house museum is on Soi Kasamansam on the opposite side of Rama I Road.
The museum is open from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm with an admission fee of 100 Baht for adults and 50 Baht for children and students. Prices may have gone up a fraction since I was last there, but whatever it may be, it is still well worth the visit. Just remember the last guided house tour is at 4:30 pm.