One of the buildings of the Jim Thompson compound
During your stay in Thailand, you’ll inevitably hear about Jim Thompson, the American entrepreneur who revived the Thai silk industry after WWII, created a famous brand, and left behind a canal-side house which is now a historic site managed like a museum. He mysteriously disappeared in the Malaysian jungle in 1967, but the traditional Thai-style teak house (which is actually a compound of six houses) stands just as he left it. It’s filled with a superb collection of Asian art amassed by Thompson (including 7th-century sculpture, antique ceramics, rare Ming porcelain, and Burmese wood carvings), and remains surrounded by a verdant jungle-like garden of plants and trees.
A mandatory, short guided tour (lasting about a half hour), will tell you all about Thompson and the art and architecture of each building, entirely built without nails. You’ll have to take off your shoes before the tour, and photos aren’t allowed inside the house.
There are also temporary exhibitions on local culture and textiles.
Pass by the shop for silk pieces such as scarves and neckties, and end your visit at the bar and restaurant.
Visit early in the morning, to guarantee a spot on the next available tour, which start on the half hour. Waiting for your turn, touring the house and gardens, and shopping for souvenirs, means you’ll end up spending anywhere between 90 minutes and two hours here.
How to get to the Jim Thompson House
Take the BTS Skytrain to National Stadium station. The house is just a few feet from there, on 6 Soi Kasemsan 2 (Rama 1 Road).