One of the most famous tourist destinations in Bangkok is the Jim Thompson House located on Rama Road just opposite the National Stadium and the Skytrain (also known as BTS – Bangkok Transit System) station of the same name. The property is now run and maintained by Jim Thompson foundation under the royal patronage of H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
Jim Thompson or James Harrison Wilson Thompson born in Delaware in 1906 and was an active member in the United States Army where he voluntarily rendered his services and later on became a part of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), during the Second World War. This changed his life and gave him opportunities to travel around the world. During one of such tours, he visited and took a liking to the particular city. He was even sure of returning to Bangkok, settling down, and starting a business. He later became popular as the owner and founder of the world famous Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company. He is also known as the “legendary American of Thailand” and is known to be one of the best foreigners that not only Thailand but Asia has ever seen.
Jim Thompson house today houses several antique Thai structures that were collected by the man himself from various parts of the country in the 1950s and 1960s.
Around the same time, Thompson began working on his silk company and also a major collector of South East Asian art. It wasn’t a known phenomenon back then. His collections included Buddhist and secular artworks not just from Thailand but also from the neighboring countries of Cambodia, Laos, and Burma (present day Myanmar).
He attained the heights of his architectural achievement in 1958 when he decided t showcase his work at his new home formed out of parts from six different traditional Thai houses. It now sits on a canal (klong in Thai) across from Bangkrua where at the time his weavers were located. Most of those six houses were remnants moved from Ayutthaya but the main part which is now the living room was originally a weaver’s house in Bangkrua.
The house today is a museum as mentioned and can be accessed only through guided tours for a nominal fee. The premises have been maintained almost in the same manner as it was at the time when Thompson used to run the show. You can often find a distinctive amalgamation of traditional Thai architecture with hints of western influence around the house. The museum or the house premises also have a number of service quarters which have now been transformed into a part of the museum to showcase many of Thompson’s brilliant collection. The major categories in which all of the houses’s belongings are classified are – Sculptures, Porcelain, Paintings, and Other Collectible Items.
There is a retail store located near the entrance which sells Jim Thompson branded products and also a museum of Silk works above the building. There is a Thai restaurant for visitors near the building where you can relax and sit down for refreshments or even lunch.
Jim Thompson mysteriously disappeared on the Easter Weekend of 1967 while he was holidaying with friends in Cameroon Highlands, a resort in North Malaysia. By then, he had already been living in Thailand for almost 22 years.
The easiest way to reach Jim Thomson house is by taking the Skytrain. It is located just opposite the "National Stadium" stop of the Skytrain also known as BTS or Bangkok Transit System. You can also obviously hire a cab or a tuk tuk.