Aug 02 2011
A few posts back, we talked about museums that give a history of Bangkok. Today, I’ll focus on a few homes-turned-museums that give more personal glimpses into Thai life of the past 200 years. These four museums are all former homes, and all of them afford stellar looks into Thai architecture and design as well as daily Thai life of those bygone eras.
The Jim Thompson House
The heavy hitter in the Bangkok home museum category is undoubtedly The Jim Thompson House. Of the many things to see and do in Bangkok, this leafy and historical oasis is a Bangkok must-see, and a spot that both pays homage to traditional Thai architecture while providing interesting background on that famed Thai silk.
The former home of Jim Thompson, an American credited with revitalising the Thai silk industry, the house was inhabited in the 1950s and 60s until Thompson’s mysterious death. Thompson’s home takes six traditional Thai teak houses brought from all over the country, and crafts them into one dream house. The interior decoration and his displayed collections are beautiful as well. Come prepared to shop and eat as the on-site restaurant and silk store make this stop a triple sightseeing treat.
Admission: 100 baht, students 50 baht
Open daily 09:00-17:00
The museum is a five-minute walk from the National Stadium BTS station. Follow the signage and ignore dodgy men telling you it’s closed.
M.R. Kukrit’s House
Frequently compared to The Jim Thompson House, M.R. Kukrit’s House is another 20th century home constructed through the union of small traditional teak houses. M.R. Kukrit was Thailand’s prime minister in 1974-5, and this tranquil spot was his abode until his death in 1995. While not quite as picturesque as Jim Thompson’s, M.R. Kukrit’s House feels much less like a museum and much more like a house tour. While at The Jim Thompson House you are guided from room to room, but here you are invited to stroll through the garden and home. With books on the shelves and dogs wandering from room to room, there is still a very homey, if borderline eerie, feeling that the owner could be back at any second.
Admission price: 50 baht, 20 baht for students
Open daily 10:00-16:00
The house can be reached from Narathiwatrajanakarin Road Soi 7 or South Sathorn Road Soi 3. Get off at BTS station Chong Nonsi or the BRT station Sathorn. It is about a 10-minute walk from the BTS.
A different type of house altogether, The Bangkokian Museum is set up in the former home of a middle-class Thai family who lived here from 1937 to 1957. Very Western in its style, some of the most interesting aspects of this house are the hot weather twists on Western design — like walls that don’t reach the roof so the hot air can escape. After 45 minutes of exploring I had a feel for the family who lived here; where Grandmother liked to read, where Mum and Dad preferred to sleep, which rooms the kids gathered in to listen to music. In addition to a lovely family history, the museum also boasts rooms devoted to 19th and 20th century Thai artifacts including coins, adverts and kitchen appliances.
Admission price: Free
Open Wed-Sun 09:00-15:30
The Chao Phraya Express stops N2 and N3 are both a short walk from the Bangkokian Museum. The museum is located on Charoen Krung soi 43, between Charoen Krung and Thanon Mahesak Surasak.
The least polished of these four stops, The Kamthieng House was built alongside Chiang Mai’s Ping River in 1848. In the mid 20th century this tiny home was moved to Bangkok, where it has been restored to its former splendour. The home displays beautiful Lanna architecture and has many exhibitions devoted to depicting the Lanna way of life. While the rooms are not furnished according to their original design, you can still get a great feel for the house by walking its narrow stilted outdoor corridors and crouching through the doorways of its often tiny rooms.
Admission price: 100 baht
Open Tue-Sat 09:00-17:00
Kamthieng House is located on Sukhumvit Soi 21, a five-minute walk from the Asok BTS. It is located just outside the MRT station Sukhumvit.
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