Travelling to Thailand, you might hear Jim Thompson’s name in one of two contexts: (A) while shopping, or (B) visiting Bangkok attractions. Yet the question isn’t so much ‘who is Jim Thompson’ as ‘what happened to him?’. Thompson was an American expat credited with reinventing the Thai silk industry and, in 1967, he just – vanished. Like Amelia Earhart, there are theories as to what happened, yet his mysterious disappearance remains unsolved.
Jim Thompson in Thailand
The Jim Thompson House, Bangkok: While living in Bangkok in the post-war era, Thompson led a debonair and high-flying life. His house, today a museum, is an icon of leading Thai style and architecture. If spending any time in Bangkok, we highly recommended you visit his former home, “The House that was the Talk of the Town”. You must join a guided tour to walk around the interior of the house (available in every language under the sun), however you’re free to explore the beautiful gardens on your own at your leisure – and they’re incredible. Demonstrations are given in silk-weaving and the finished product is (of course) available in an on-site Jim Thompson shop. If there’s a better Bangkok souvenir – we can’t think of one! The restaurant is a fantastic spot for lunch or just a well-deserved dose of mango sticky rice! *Jim Thompson House visitor information + nearby hotels
TIP! If you pick up a free Bangkok map at the airport, note that the large ‘Jim Thompson’ attraction is the flagship store and not The Jim Thompson House (they’re nowhere near each other).
The Jim Thompson mystery: Jim Thompson’s huge range of interests and influence suggest a fascinating biography. Whether your interests lie with architecture, history, design or a total mystery, his story adds great insight to Thailand then and now.
Life in 1960s Bangkok: In the same vein, ‘Mai Pen Rai Means Nevermind‘ (UK version) offers an honest and hilarious insight into this period of Bangkok expat life and quite what Thailand was like in Thompson’s day.
Jim Thompson silk: While in Thailand, you’ll see Jim Thompson’s high-end range of Thai silks and fabrics (scarves, accessories, cushions, home goods, etc) in airport shops and boutiques throughout the kingdom. Of course, silk wall-hangings and such like are available across Thailand but these? Crème-de-la-crème. (And who doesn’t love a souvenir with a story?)
TIP! Shopping is a near-religion in Thailand: see the best things to buy.