Silk Legend: The Jim Thompson House

A while ago, 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.

Jim Thompson (Photo courtesy of: RJS Interiors)
Jim Thompson (Photo courtesy of: RJS Interiors)

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.


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.

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 buy 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 and Trick:

  • The ticket prices: Adult 100Baht and Kids 50Baht
  • 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
  • Contact:
    • Jim Thompson House – 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, Bangkok
    • Tel: (662) 216-7368 Fax: (662) 612-3744
  • Website: http://www.jimthompsonhouse.com
  • There are several Jim Thompson outlets in Bangkok and Pattaya. These outlets give different prices (cheaper) as they sell last season goods. Please find the details below:
    • Outlets
      1. 153 Soi Sukhumvit 93, Bangchak, Phakanong, Bangkok 10260
      Tel: 02-332-6530-4, 02-742-4601-3 Ext 11-13 Fax: 02-333-0954
      2. Royal Garden Plaza Pattaya: 218 Moo 10, Beach Road, Nongprue, Banglamung, Chonburi 2026
      Tel: 038-710-200-1
      3. Central Festival Pattaya: 333/99 – 100 Moo 9, Nongprue, Banglamung Chonburi 20260
      Tel: 038-043-346-7
      4. Homeworks Pattaya: Tower B, 565/66 Moo 10, Nongprue, Banglamung, Chonburi 20150
      Tel: 038-374-549-51

History information courtesy of http://www.jimthompsonhouse.com 

Data as of July 2014

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