Charming and free
Published: 18th July, 2017
Occupying a trio of restored heritage houses draped in trees, the small but worthwhile Bangkokian Museum displays what one upper middle-class home looked like in the Thai capital from the early to mid 20th century.
Archan Waraporn, a teacher and daughter of the original owners, donated the houses to the city in 2004 and arranged the interiors as she recalled them when growing up. Old black-and-white photos of the original residents join original four-post beds, crystal bottles and an upright piano. It all combines for an authentic and charming feel that similar Bangkok museums lack.
The museum pops up unexpectedly down an otherwise inconspicuous side street off Charoen Krung Road in the historic Bang Rak area. Up front stands the main house, built in 1937 with original louvered wood shutters, a broad front stoop and varnished wood floors leading inside to a living room, dining room, bedrooms and washroom that will transport you to the World War II era. Gardens and fountains fill out the plot, providing an elusive dose of tranquility in the city.
Step past the wide deck to the back of the property and you’ll reach the second house, which was built in 1929 on Soi Ngam Duphli and transported to its current location to join the museum. Featuring a spacious open-sided living area on the ground floor and an office and bedroom upstairs, it was the home of an Indian-British doctor who rented from the owners.
The third building includes the kitchen and woodworking work area on the ground floor, complete with old woks, ceramic stoves and rusty tools. Upstairs stretches an eclectic display of vintage toys, dishes and advertisements, including many from post World War II Europe. There are plenty of knick-knacks to keep you distracted.
Alternately known as Bangkok Folk Museum, the site is a short walk from the Thailand Creative and Design Centre and is best included in a day spent exploring the antique art galleries, old European-style buildings and terrific Muslim-Thai food around Charoen Krung Road, not far from Silom Road. You could keep the old-style vibes rolling with some afternoon tea at the nearby Authors’ Lounge.
The Bangkokian Museum is located at the east end of Charoen Krung Soi 43, on the right side of the street as you approach Mahasek Rd. Saphan Taksin BTS Station is just over a km to the south, while Si Phaya Pier on the river ferry lines is less than one km to the west.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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