The small city of Pak Thong Chai is filled with family-run silk studios, some of which were patronised by American silk baron, Jim Thompson, in the mid 20th century.
The area remains one of Thailand’s largest silk production centres, with several large factories and countless small studios churning out both modern and traditional silk products. Shops sell all sorts of silk wears and you’ll find quite a few studios where it’s possible to watch local women work the old-fashioned looms in a clattery process using their feet and hands to manipulate the sumptuous threads. The southern part of town is a good place to start.
The Jim Thompson brand became entrenched in Pak Thong Chai when, after his mysterious disappearance in the 1960s, members of his family took command of the business and opened a large factory here. While there are no tours of the factory, cool season visitors can tour the Jim Thompson Farm and learn about silkworms, traditional Thai culture and agriculture. The tours are only offered from December 5 to January 10 each year, and the farm is located 25 kilometres south of Pak Thong Chai at the foot of Khao Phaya Prap mountain.
How to get there
Pak Thong Chai is located 25 km south of Khorat off Highway 304. Buses from Khorat’s Bus Terminal 1 depart twice an hour from 06:30 to 19:00 for 30 baht.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 7th September, 2016.