The story of Jim Thompson is still talked about today over 50 years after his disappearance. He was known as a person who single-handedly reawoke the Thai silk trade in the 1950s. Jim Thompson’s House in Bangkok is still open today and celebrates the life and times of this interesting man and his love for Thai silk.
The house located on the banks of the Saen Saeb Canal in Bangkok, enjoying lovely gardens and six traditional Thai teak wooden houses that today are like a museum of Jim’s past and his soiree into the world of Thai silk manufacturing and trading.
Who is Jim Thompson?
Jim was an architect by trade and was a collector of Asia and Thai artworks who had a keen eye for detail. He was discharged from military service in 1946 after World War II and decided he wanted to settle down and live in Thailand. He began to dedicate his time to reviving the Thai silk trade, which at the time had bottomed out.
Not only did he do a fantastic job of reviving the Thai silk trade, but also introduced these fabrics to the catwalks and fashion parades in major cities such as New York, London, Paris and Milan. His products became very sought after at the time.
Jim Thompson’s House also became a shrine and was filled to the brim with amazing Asian artworks and antiques. It was already like a museum when Jim was living there and has been like that ever since.
Although Jim had become rich and highly successful creating and selling Thai sill products, on a fateful day in 1967, he famously disappeared into a Jungle in Malaysia and never returned. Although the official story is he never returned from the jungle, many people believe he was kidnapped and killed by business rivals who were also vying to control the Thai silk trade. I guess we will never know what happened to Jim Thompson. It’s a story of beauty and tragedy, all in the same instance.
Viewing Valuable Art at Jim Thompson’s House
In the years after his disappearance, Jim Thompson’s House has become a shrine and a museum to celebrate his life. If you are visiting Bangkok and want to get a real feel for the life of Jim in Asian in the 1950s and 1960s, visiting the house is a must.
Jim had acquired quite a collection of ancient Buddhist pieces from various temples across Thailand. His house is like a temple in many regards. You can view stunning Buddhist murals that tell old stories through art. He even had sandstone Buddha images guarding the kitchen area of the house. Everywhere you look in the house is dominated by beautiful artworks that Jim himself loved.
The dining room located in an exquisite 19th-century teakwood pavilion that brought to the estate from the ancient city of Ayutthaya, which was formally the capital of Thailand before Bangkok. Here you will find two beautiful Chinese mahjong tables where Jim would sit and gaze out over the gardens at lunchtime.
Every part of the house doused in ancient South East Asian art pieces that give the house a real back-in-time atmosphere that simply scintillating.
Sampling the Jim Thompson Brand
Approximately 10-years after Jim had disappeared, the court appointed an administrator that became the James H.W. Thompson Foundation, who took over his assets and managed his house and companies. Although it took a few years to get his things in order, the foundation turned Jim’s House into a museum to celebrate his name and accomplishments.
Today at the house, you will find restaurants and a café, a souvenir boutique shop, an art centre and even banquet areas. There is a refreshing outdoor terrace next to the canal that can host parties with up to 80 people, ideal for functions, corporate events, weddings, press conferences and even fashion shows.
When you are holidaying in Bangkok and want to enjoy a peaceful yet inspiring afternoon of history, art and all things beautiful, a trip to Jim Thompson’s House on the outskirts of the city is something that you do not want to miss. The museum is famous and known by the majority of taxi drivers and all the tour desks in the city.
Map & More
Jim Thompson’s House
Opening Hours: 09:00-17:00
Address: Soi Kasemsan 2, opposite the National Stadium on Rama I Road. BTS: National Stadium
GPS Location: 13.749842, 100.528553