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Jim Thompson House

Art collection in traditional Thai teak houses

The main building of Jim Thompson teak wood house in Bangkok
The main building

Jim Thompson House in the heart of Bangkok is the former house of American Jim Thompson, turned into a museum. Surrounded by a well kept tropical garden are six teak wooden buildings in traditional Thai architectural style. On display in the houses is a collection of mostly South East Asian art brought together by Jim Thompson. The house is now managed by the James H.W. Thompson Foundation which aims to preserve the house and its art collection.

Jim Thompson revived the Thai silk industry. On display around the house are items used in the production of silk as well as boards with information about the process of silk worm harvesting, spinning and weaving.

Visitors can walk around in the gardens, to see the house inside join a tour.

Jim Thompson

Jim Thompson was an American architect who ended up in Thailand shortly after the end of World War II. He founded the Thai Silk Company, a business that soon prospered and employed thousands of workers producing hand woven silk items. He revived the Thai silk industry, which was at the time dying out.

In 1967 while on holiday in Malaysia Jim Thompson disappeared without a trace taking a walk in the jungle. To this day it remains a mystery what happened to him.

Woold sculpture, part of the art collection at Jim Thompson House
Wood sculpture

Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson bought six houses in Bangkok and Ayutthaya. The traditional Thai architecture teak wood houses were build on high poles to protect the houses form flooding. They were dismantled and taken to the place in Bangkok Jim had chosen and rebuild there. As no nails were used, the buildings were easy to dismantle and rebuild at their new location.

Apart from the carved panels under the windows and the roofs ends shaped like stylized Naga snakes similar to those often seen on Thai temples there is little decoration on the houses.

In 1959 the houses were completed and Jim moved in.

Art collection

Jim Thompson had an appreciation for Asian art and after moving into his house he started an art collection. He often strolled around the markets in Bangkok where he would buy art pieces at often very low prices, since there was not much demand for them back then. Soon he had acquired a sizeable art collection of mostly Asian Buddhist art, now on display in the various buildings.

Among others visitors can admire Buddha images from various periods in Thai history like Dvaravati, Khmer, Lopburi and Ayutthaya as well as paintings, porcelain items and old photos. Among the most treasured items are several very old Buddha images, including a 13th century sandstone image. The oldest images date back to the 7th or 8th century, the Dvaravati Mon period.

Paintings depicting Buddhist stories
Old paintings depicting Buddhist stories

Tours of the house

To see the interior of the house visitors have to join a tour. Tours take around 30 to 40 minutes and are available in Thai, English, French, Chinese and Japanese. The guide will explain about the houses, the art collection and the silk weaving process. Taking photos inside the house is not allowed.

A shop next to the house sells silk products like scarves, dresses and shirts. A restaurant serves excellent food and drinks.

Location and how to get there

Jim Thompson House is located at 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama I road. A quiet narrow lane from Rama I road leads to the house. Either wait for the free electric shuttle cart or take a 5 minute walk. Easiest way to get there is by metered taxi or BTS Sy Train. Exit at BTS Station National Stadium.
Get there by Sky Train.

Opening hours

The house opens daily from 9 am until 6 pm.

Entrance fees

Entrance fee is 150 Thai Baht including a guided tour. Students under 22 years pay 100 Baht, id is required. Handbags and other personal belongings must be stored in the lockers before start of the tour.