Photo: Silk, silk and more silk.

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Baan Krua Nua silk village

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Many travellers visit Jim Thompson's House to experience the legacy of this famous American spy turned silk magnate, but few are aware that some of his original suppliers still weave silk a stone’s throw away. If you miss the Baan Krua Nua silk village, you’re missing half of the Jim Thompson story and a compelling attraction in its own right.

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Rooted in the ancient Champa kingdom that once ruled vast swathes of what’s now central and southern Vietnam, the story of Baan Krua begins long before Jim Thompson was born. From roughly the 14th to 18th centuries, civil war and conflicts with the Vietnamese caused thousands of Muslim Chams to flee into southern Laos and Cambodia. Some made it all the way to the Ayutthaya kingdom that predates modern Thailand, and their exquisite silk-weaving skills came with them.

Beneath the surface of the Jim Thompson story. Photo taken in or around Baan Krua Nua silk village, Bangkok, Thailand by David Luekens.

Beneath the surface of the Jim Thompson story. Photo: David Luekens

After Burmese forces seized Ayutthaya in 1767, many Cham warriors fought among the Siamese, Chinese and Portuguese ranks that re-claimed Siam. In the early 1780s, the Thai king rewarded them with a piece of land along the San Saeb Canal. Known as Baan Krua, it remains Bangkok’s largest Muslim community. A group of the Cham descendants in Bang Krua Nua (North Bang Krua) have woven silk there ever since, though it was a fading cottage industry when Jim Thompson came along just after World War II.

Community elder and silk shop owner, Khun Loong (venerable uncle) Aood, who knew Thompson personally, told us how Thompson used to explore the hidden corners of Bangkok in his free time. One day, he happened upon Baan Krua Nua while rowing a boat along the canal. When he peaked his head into a silk-weaving workshop, a ... Travelfish members only (Around 600 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
To reach Baan Krua Nua from Jim Thompson's House, which itself is located on Soi Kasem San 2 near National Stadium BTS Station, take a left (north) out of the front gates and walk to where the road ends at the San Saeb Canal. From there, take a left onto the canal-side footpath and keep walking until you reach a pedestrian bridge. After crossing to the north side of the canal, take an immediate left then walk another 50 paces or so, and you'll see the signs. The village can also be accessed from Baan Krua Pier on the San Saeb canal boat line.

Baan Krua Nua silk village
North bank of the San Saeb canal near Jim Thompson's House, Bangkok
Mo–Su: 09:00–20:00
T: (02) 215 9864 
Admission: No entry fee is charged, but we highly recommend picking up a scarf or two—they start at around 500 baht.

Location map for Baan Krua Nua silk village

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