American GI turned Thai silk expert and entrepreneur Jim Thompson introduced the world to Thai textiles and crafts and revolutionized the industry. He was a connoisseur of Southeast Asian art and culture, and visitors to his home, a little group of houses he purchased from different parts of Thailand and reassembled beside a canal in Bangkok, can see the Thai and Burmese art and artifacts he collected.
Jim Thompson disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the Malaysian jungle and his body was never found. The huge influence he had on Thai silks and crafts and his strange demise have turned him into a legend. Many travelers consider his house a must when they come to town, not just for the traditional teak architecture, gardens, and antiques, but for the temporary exhibitions as well.
His name has become attached to an empire. There’s a chain of stores called Jim Thompson that sells silks and fine linens, and ties, bags, pillows, and so on made from fine fabrics. The main branch is at Surawong Road not far from Silom, but you’ll see them everywhere, in malls and in department stores. There are Jim Thompson restaurants; the Saladaeng Café on Saladaeng Soi 1 is a nice high-end Thai restaurant (www.saladaengcafe.com). The James H.W. Thompson Foundation gives grants for textile research, and there is a publishing house, too.
A visit to the Jim Thompson House is by guided tour only. Hours are 9am-5pm every day.
BTS: National Stadium
Hours: 9am-5pm daily for Jim Thompson House & Museum