One of the tourist sites that is listed in all the guidebooks and lists of things to do in Bangkok is the Jim Thompson House. But in this instance, there is a legitimate reason for it. In conclusion, the Jim Thompson House Museum is a must-see while in Bangkok and one of our favorite Bangkok attractions.
Built in 1959, this lovely wooden Thai-style home is surrounded by a sizable, beautiful garden and is situated in a great spot directly by the canal. It was once the residence of Jim H. W. Thompson, an American who rose to fame as an entrepreneur in the Thai silk business following World War II.
The home has been converted into a museum where visitors may explore the rooms and sense the presence of Jim Thompson, the former owner. The home has been wonderfully conserved.
On the grounds of the museum, you may also discover a store offering Jim Thompson silk items, an art center, and a fantastic café.
Last but not least, you’ll find out about Jim Thompson’s enigmatic absence. The narrative is amazing, and I ADORE mysteries!
The gorgeous Jim Thompson Museum is one of the stops on our suggested 3-day Bangkok itinerary, which you can discover here.
The Jim Thompson House Museum is conveniently situated in Siam, the main retail district of Bangkok.
A wonderful home in the Thai style, The Jim Thompson House has a magnificent garden. Walking through the house and garden is like getting a look into Thailand’s history because they are both filled with priceless antiques and works of art.
A guided tour of the museum is available; it departs every hour, every day (except Tuesdays when the museum is closed). You will hear the English-speaking tour guide describe Jim Thompson’s life and the history of the house.
Jim Thompson’s background is an intriguing one. In 1906, Jim Harrison Wilson Thompson was born in Delaware, America. In 1928, he earned his architectural degree from Princeton University.
He was assigned to Bangkok as a military commander following World War II, and lo and behold, he fell in love with Bangkok and Thailand (who can blame him?). As a result, after completing his military service, he decided to live here permanently.
Jim Thompson developed a fascination with the long-neglected art form of traditional Thai silk weaving. Products made of silk were once seen as being out-of-date, and their manufacture was a fading art.
However, Thompson made the decision to resurrect this trade and began creating more contemporary silk garments and accessories. Jim Thompson established the Thai Silk Company as a consequence in 1948.
He began promoting Thai silk to the international marketplace. It didn’t take long for Thompson’s silk business to become immensely successful once it became clear that fashionistas all over the world adored Thai silk. The use of Thompson’s Thai silk in all the costumes for the well-known Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The King and I” was one of the main factors in its popularity in the USA.
The vivid jewel tones and striking color combinations that we now identify with Thai silk were not invented by Thompson, but by providing jobs for them, he assisted thousands of poor Thai people in escaping poverty. He accomplished something intelligent by allowing the ladies in the rural areas of Thailand to weave silk at home. They wouldn’t have to go to Bangkok to work and could both remain at home while earning an income.
On the grounds of Jim Thompson House, there is a store that offers lovely silk goods and apparel. This is the ideal location to buy Thai presents and souvenirs to send home. Remember that these are high-quality silk things, so don’t anticipate finding bargains in this store.
Thompson was exceptional and stood out in many ways from other men in Southeast Asia. He was a well-known American antique collector, designer and maker of silk, former architect, retired army officer, and former spy.
Thompson intended to construct a home for himself in Bangkok because he genuinely liked Thailand. He didn’t want to create just any mansion, though, since he was a history and antiques enthusiast. Oh no, he planned to utilize materials from old buildings located in the north to construct an antique wooden Thai house.
Six historic teak structures, some from the former capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya, were collected by him from various locations around Thailand. The majority of the residences were at least two centuries old and built in the traditional Thai style.
Six homes were taken apart and transported via canal to Bangkok. They were put together to form Jim Thompson’s House on a lovely, green plot of ground close to the canal.
All customs and ancient religious ceremonies were observed during the building and assembly of the dwellings, which were preserved in their original traditional architectural style. A common preservation used on many historic Thai buildings is the red paint that covers the exterior walls of the dwellings.
In 1959, Thompson moved into this lovely ancient home after astrologers advised that it was the correct place and time to do so.
In order to avoid floods from destroying the buildings, some of the constructions were elevated one complete level above the ground, much like traditional Thai homes were.
But Thompson did add his own twists to the structures. He installed a central staircase within as opposed to outside, which is more typical of older Thai homes. Additionally, he turned the magnificently designed wall panels that are located beneath the windows so that they face the interior as opposed to the exterior.
Thompson was a passionate individual who enjoyed hosting dinner parties for visitors from all over the world. He was passionate in finding ancient antiques, and he spent practically every weekend searching in and around Bangkok. He also adored his garden and the outdoors.
Every hour or so, a guided tour of the area is offered, and we decided to take part. We received a full explanation and information about the homes and garden, as well as details on Jim Thompson and his disappearance, throughout the tour.
Jim Thompson House Bangkok tour guides
Thompson resided in the main home, which is exquisitely furnished and stuffed with antiquities. Unfortunately, we were not permitted to take photos inside the house, so we were forced to capture a few covert exterior shots before leaving.
The antiques that Thompson had previously gathered from all around the world were scattered over his house.
He utilized items like Chinese blue-and-white Ming vases, Belgian glass, carvings from Cambodia, Victorian chandeliers, Thai stone carvings, Burmese sculptures, and a dining table that had formerly belonged to King Rama V of Thailand to decorate his apartments.
Jim Thompson leaves for a stroll after lunch on Sunday, March 26th, 1967, while on vacation with friends in the Malaysian Highlands, and he never comes back.
He left everything in the hotel, including his passport, so he must have intended to come back, right?
The police, as well as various American and British officials and detectives, conducted a search for Thompson over the next eleven days after he vanished. The search is the biggest ever conducted in Malaysia. But there was not even the slightest hint as to what may have happened to him! Quite unusual!
The hunt also included the contentious addition of a well-known psychic investigator from the USA. With a picture of Thompson in his hand, he sat down on the porch where Thompson was last seen. He stammered, saying he could “see” a vehicle come up by the house and that fourteen persons took Thompson while drugging him with chloroform.
In the weeks following Thompson’s disappearance, over 118 mediums and mystic psychics poured through the jungle, each with their own theories about what had transpired.