Sorry to say. Jim Thompson’s house museum might not help you reach your “instagrammable shots” quota. The most photogenic pieces here are forbidden to photograph and the place is usually packed with visitors, it’s quite a challenge to take pictures. What you’ll get here no sweat, however, is a load of inspiration (and mystery)—for Jim Thompson’s story is not only inspiring but baffling as well.
You might probably heard of Jim Thompson, especially if you are into fashion. The silk company that started as a $700 investment in 1940s is now a well-known Thai brand selling silk goods with other ventures namely: a farm, art centers, and restaurants. The company was co-founded by Jim Thompson.
Born James Harrison Wilson Thompson, Jim Thompson is an architect and an ex-military intelligence officer who decided to permanently stay in Bangkok after the second world war. His major contribution to his new home, Thailand, was his business—silk. Jim Thompson revived the dying Thai silk industry and made it known to the world. Because of his success, he is dubbed as the legendary “Thai Silk King”.
|Undated photo of Jim Thompson (Source: South China Morning Post)|
Jim Thompson’s deep love for Thailand
It is said that Jim Thompson loved Thailand so deeply, it drove him to amass art collections that would benefit the whole country in the future. He collected Buddhist and secular arts not only across Thailand but also from Cambodia, Laos, and Burma. His collection is housed in his home in Bangkok.
Video from our visit to Jim Thompson House
An impressive house
The estate itself is an impressive masterpiece now being admired by visitors like me. In his property, Jim Thompson constructed six Thai dwellings, built with traditional Thai design and rituals.
The rooms are decorated with Chinese blue-and-white Ming pieces, Belgian glass, Cambodian carvings, Victorian chandeliers, Benjaron earthenware, Thai stone images, Burmese statues, and a dining table which was once used by King Rama V of Thailand.
It took almost a year to complete Jim Thompson’s mansion. Now a museum, the Jim Thompson House can be reached by public or private transport.
- Operating hours: Open every day from 9am to 6pm
Entrance fee: 200 baht ;
visitors under 22yrs: 100 baht ;
children under 10 years – free when accompanied by an adult
Jim Thompson went missing in 1967 when he went for a walk to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.
South China Post shared some theories related to Jim Thompson’s missing: he was killed by a tiger; he got lost and perished in deep forest; he disappeared himself as part of a political intrigue.
In 1974, the Thai court declared Jim Thompson dead in absentia.
Perhaps what’s most important to me when I travel is the inspiration I get from people I interact with or stories I hear about a place. The visit to Jim Thompson house gave me an appreciation not only to Thai interior design and architecture but also to people who have a purpose greater than themselves, just like Jim Thompson. But I couldn’t help but think, what the heck happened to him? Where is Jim Thompson?