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Jim Thompson’s House

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Jim Thompson was a famous architect, designer, silk magnate, Asian art lover and, incidentally, a spy for the Allies during World War II. Draped beside the San Saeb Canal, the house that he pieced together and filled with antiques now stands as one of Bangkok’s most popular museums.

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The burly American became infatuated with Thailand when the US Secret Service (predecessor to the CIA) assigned him to Bangkok at the end of the war. After encountering the silk weavers of Baan Krua Nua, he launched a company that revitalised the Thai silk industry and remains one of the world’s best-known producers and retailers of silk wears. In 1967, Thompson disappeared in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia, a mystery that has never been solved.

Photo guardian ... Photo taken in or around Jim Thompson’s House, Bangkok, Thailand by David Luekens.

Photo guardian ... Photo: David Luekens

To learn more about Thompson’s extraordinary life and mysterious disappearance, check out The Ideal Man: The Tragedy of Jim Thompson and the American Way of War, by Joshua Kurlantzick. It’s not sold at the museum but you can read our review here.

A visit to the man’s house is less of a journey through history and more of a window shopping tour where everything is old, quietly beautiful and unfortunately not for sale. The lair of one of the most legendary Westerners in Asia during the mid 20th century is a work of art unto itself, with the elegance of a traditional Thai house arranged in an American-style layout.

The house and gardens are gorgeous. Photo taken in or around Jim Thompson’s House, Bangkok, Thailand by David Luekens.

The house and gardens are gorgeous. Photo: David Luekens

To create the house, Thompson procured centuries-old teak beams, fretted boards and fired ceramic tiles from as far away as Ayutthaya. Not a single nail was used during construction, which followed a traditional Thai format along with a schedule based on the advice of Thai astrologers. Thompson opened the house to visitors before his disappearance, making it one of Bangkok’s longest-running museums. It remains a mainstay on the ... Travelfish members only (Around 500 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
The house is a 300-metre walk from National Stadium BTS Station. Leave the station through exit 1, walk straight west and turn right on Soi Kasem San 2, and the house will be on the left at the end of the lane. Alternately, take a San Saeb canal boat to Baan Krua Nua Pier, walk east alongside the canal and take the footbridge to the other side.

Jim Thompson’s House
6 Soi Kasem San 2 (off Rama I Rd)
Mo–Su: 09:00–18:00 (tours every half-hour)
T: (02) 216 7368
Admission: 150 baht for adults ; 100 baht for children

Location map for Jim Thompson’s House

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