Silk Legend: The Jim Thompson House

Silk at The Jim Thompson House Bangkok

I got the chance to visit one of the must see museum in Bangkok; The Jim Thompson House. A museum dedicated to Jim Thompson for his contribution in the Thai silk industry.

Thompson is one of people who saved Thai silk from a dying craft to a global brand. Today, his brand is among the prestigious one in the world.

In 1967, Jim Thompson went on holiday with friends to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. There he set out for a walk in the jungle but never returned. Thus began the Jim Thompson legend.

Jim Thompson or James Harrison Wilson Thompson was born in Greenville, Delaware in 1906. Back in late 1940s, he participated in the military during the European war, which took him travelling around the world.

He decided to move to Bangkok because he was confident that with peace restored and the expansion of air travel, there would be a significant increase in leisure travel to the Far East. Thompson has been very fond of Thailand and its people so he decided to settle down and going into business in the country.

Slowtravelstory at The Jim Thompson House Museum

In late 1948, Thompson established the Thai Silk Company Limited. ‘Thompson’s development of the Thai silk industry is often cited as one of the great success stories of postwar Asia.

Thai Silk, a hand-woven fabric, is noted for its exceptional luster, texture and its striking complement of contrasting colors—such as emerald-green and magenta, or deep blue and shocking pink—coexisting in perfect harmony.

Traditional silk weaving process is a slow and laborious process. With the advent of industrialization in the early twentieth century, ever-rising demand for cheaper machine-made textiles from factories in Europe and Japan, dealt a devastating blow to traditional silk weaving.

In spite of such a daunting scenario, Thompson was confident that the brilliance, and distinctive qualities of Thai silk would draw significant interest overseas. To access this potential, he had several lengths of silk in a range of colors woven to his specifications and set off in 1947 for New York to see if he could successfully market the silk and source sophisticated buyers.

The Jim Thompson House outlet

Thompson’s achievements during his 25 years stay in the Kingdom of Thailand have won him much fame as the “Legendary American of Thailand”

Since his disappearance in 1967, The government then transform Thompson’s house into museum for visitors to learn more about Thompson’s contribution and bought his famous Thai silk. Although he’s been missing, his legacy continues as we could see the Jim Thompson House keep growing in the world and have a special place in the heart of the locals.


Tips to visit The Jim Thompson House

  • The ticket prices: Adult 200Baht and Kids 100Baht
  • Purchasing a ticket is included with the tour
  • The area divided into the house of Jim Thompson (museum) and the boutique where you can find all kinds of silk and goods for you to purchase
  • There are several Jim Thompson outlets in Bangkok and Pattaya. These outlets give different prices (cheaper) as they sell last season goods.

Jim Thompson House
6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, Bangkok
Tel: (662) 216-7368 Fax: (662) 612-3744

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