Before visiting the capital of Thailand, we had never heard of this mysterious man. Luckily, we made a trip to the Jim Thompson House Museum in Bangkok and couldn’t believe his story! Here’s some interesting things to know about Jim Thompson silk, his time in Thailand, and the amazing on-site restaurant.
6 Facts About the Jim Thompson House Bangkok
1.Who is Jim Thompson?
The man, the myth, the legend! We should probably start off with a brief introduction. Jim Thompson was an American businessman who grew to fame revitalizing the silk industry in Thailand. However, if you get a chance to visit the Jim Thompson House Museum as we did, you’ll see he had such a bigger impact.
Jim Thompson’s many talents included being an architect, antique collector, an army officer, and even a spy! In the 1950’s and 60’s he become one of the most famous figures in all of Southeast Asia. Through his house and Jim Thompson silk business which survives today, he is still remembered fondly.
2. Jim Thompson House Museum
If you’re looking for something fun and unique to add to your Bangkok itinerary make sure to stop by the Jim Thompson House Museum. In 1958, Jim built what’s referred to as “the House on the Klong.” The architectural masterpiece sits next to the river and connects intimately with the nature and ponds surrounding it.
We visited here for the afternoon and were blown away by the antiques and history that fills the house. It truly tells the story of his life in a beautiful way and it’s so great that anyone can tour it! Honestly, it feels like you are completely transported out of the city as you tour this residence turned museum.
3. Jim Thompson Restaurant
Before you tour the House on the Klong, we highly recommend stopping in for lunch at the Jim Thompson restaurant! Here you can taste a wide variety of Thai specialties.
Jim Thompson was known for his generous hospitality and hosting skills. His famous friends included politicians, writers, and movie stars, who would come from around the world to enjoy dinner with him.
Today there are 4 different locations for the Jim Thompson restaurant. Aside from the one in Bangkok at his house, you can check them out in Singapore, Tokyo, and Yokohama!
4. Was Jim Thompson a Spy?
Before he dove head first into the silk industry, Jim Thompson was an army officer. Yet, his first assignment after World War II ended was in Thailand opening the Bangkok OSS Office.
Although many of his actually activities with the CIA aren’t known, it is said that he worked to diffuse conflicts along Thailands borders.
He also maintained a relationship with his CIA contacts even after starting the Jim Thompson silk company, which brings more mystery to his untimely death.
5. The Disappearance of Jim Thompson
In late March of 1967, Jim was traveling in the Cameron Highlands region of Malaysia with a few acquaintances. Everything was going as normal until one fateful morning. Basically, Jim Thompson went out for a morning stroll and never came back!
The resulting search to look for him was one of the largest manhunts in the history of Southeast Asia. However, they would never find Jim Thompson. There are several theories about his disappearance that are still debated today.
Was he eaten by a tiger? Kidnapped by one of the bordering countries, or even killed by his own in the CIA? Some even believe he faked his own death to start a new life somewhere else. We will probably never know what happened to him, but his legacy lives on at the Jim Thompson Museum House.
6. Jim Thompson Silk
Jim Thompson is most known for his silk company and you’ll be happy to hear it’s still thriving today! In fact, in 1958, Time Magazine credited him with singlehandedly saving the silk industry in Thailand.
Don’t miss out on strolling through the Jim Thompson silk shop when you’re finished at the museum. A silk scarf will set you back close to $100 USD, but it certainly a souvenir you’ll always treasure!
Where to Stay in Bangkok
Ultra Luxury – JW Marriott Hotel Bangkok – Enjoy all the best luxury amenities right in the heart of Bangkok! JW Marriott offers the 5 star experience with a spa, epic city views, and an award-winning steakhouse.
Central Location – Riva Surya Bangkok – Sitting along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, this boutique hotel puts you in the perfect spot to explore the capital. Enjoy a unique stay while still being close to all the action of Bangkok.
BTS Skytrain – Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Siam – Sitting in the center of Bangkok’s famous Siam shopping district, the Holiday Inn is a great place to lay your head after a day of exploring. Take in the views of the National Stadium from your room and its convenient location next to the BTS Skytrain station.
Chinatown – Ago Hotel – Charming Boutique hotel just a quick walk away from all the action of Chinatown! Enjoy a traditional breakfast and the lively lounge area with music on the weekends.
Budget Travel – VIX Bangkok at Victory Monument – Awesome and affordable option for travelers visiting Bangkok. Comfortable rooms and close to many great food options.
Hostel Stay – Once Again Hostel – Fun hostel in Bangkok’s bustling Old Town. Dorms of all sizes available and it’s walking distance to many of the famous temples. You can even make some new friends at the rooftop bar!
Is Jim Thompson House Worth Visiting?
Yes! Whether you’re a history lover or just searching for a fun activity, the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok is totally worth seeing. We couldn’t believe the story behind this man and found it so interesting to learn about his time in Thailand.
We also enjoyed the restaurant and silk shop on site. If you’re visiting Bangkok make sure this is on your list!
Have any questions about this article or want to share your own interesting facts about the Jim Thompson House Museum? Leave us a comment below.
Brigitte & Jake
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Thailand Travel Planning
Transportation: While traveling through Thailand 12Go is where we find all our ferries, trains, buses, and transfers! You can find everything from island hopping speed boats to the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over Phuket! You can find everything from a James Bond island luxury sunset cruise, to Phuket Old Town 15-taster food adventure, and 5-hour island tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.