Following a weekend of shopping and dining, it was time for some serious sightseeing. Having visited the usual sights like Grand Palace and the Floating Market, you would think that there’s nothing more to see. That might have been true if the city wasn’t filled with so much culture and diversity. But having culture and diversity is exactly the strong point of Bangkok. As a matter of fact, we paid visits to several new spots for the rest of the trip!
Jim Thompson House
Our first stop was at Jim Thompson House which used to be the home of James H.W. Thompson, the “legendary American of Thailand” recognised for his exceptional contribution to the development of the Thai silk industry. This is a great place for people that wish to explore a traditional Thai house.
The house combines six traditional Thai-style buildings made of teak. Even though it was constructed in 1959, some of the buildings were at least two centuries old. They had been purchased from different parts of the country, dismantled and brought to the present site.
The house was a fine example of Thompson’s keen eye for design and colour, and became the “talk of the town”. Sadly in 1967, he disappeared mysteriously while holidaying with friends in Cameron Highlands, Malaysia. Until today, no one knows what happened to him there. But the Jim Thompson legend lives on.
Visitors are only allowed into the house in groups, brought around by tour guides. So after paying the admission of 100 baht an adult (I paid only 50 baht for being under 25!), everybody would wait around until the guide brought us into the house.
Near the ticket counter was a pond with some fish in it, plus the biggest stingray I’ve ever seen! It’s gigantic! And I certainly wouldn’t want to fall into the pond with it.
Before going up the stairs into the house, we had to take off our footwear, following Thai tradition. The house was elevated a full storey above the ground to avoid flooding during the monsoon season and prevent animals from getting in.
We were brought from room to room in the house, with our guide giving us an overview of the various furniture. For example, the dining table was actually formed by joining two heavy mahjong tables. (I doubt mahjong here refers to the game!)
This drawing room is the oldest part of the house, dating from around 1800. It originated from the silk weaving village of Ban Krua. Hanging from the ceiling is a crystal chandelier that came from an old palace. On both sides of the room, you can see Burmese figurines of Nat (good spirits) from Amarapura that decorate the niches, which were originally windows.
All the things were obviously pretty old, so no photography was allowed. Some of the colourful porcelain wares were exactly like those we’d seen at the Peranakan Museum in Singapore.
Interestingly, in both the master bedroom and the guestroom, we found potties, or what they call “pee-pee pots”! Haha! One was shaped like a cat, the other, a frog, with lids on them.
Due to the elevation, there’s a vast open space beneath the house. Ornate carvings and sculptures decorate the area.
This statue of the Buddha has the head missing. It’s centuries old, and was highly priced by Thompson himself.
The beautiful patterns on this wood panel are used as a stencil for making sarong.
The octagonal table features a highly unusual circular blue painting.
Following our tour, we stopped by the Jim Thompson restaurant and bar. It’s a nice looking place that serves Thai food and drinks.
See these triangular cushions? From our guided tour we learned that you’re supposed to turn them sideways so that you can rest your arm(pit) on it.
That’s exactly what I did whilst enjoying a singha beer. It’s interesting to note that in many places in Bangkok, the beers cost almost the same or just slightly more than the coffees and fruit juices.
6 Soi Kasemsan 2
Rama I Road
Nearest BTS: National Stadium
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm daily (last guided tour at 4:30pm)
Admission: Adults 100 baht; Students 50 baht
Suan Pakkad Palace
Our second stop for the day was another traditional Thai-style house, the Suan Pakkad Palace. This was the private residence of Prince Chumbhot Paribatra, a grandson of King Rama V.
The lacquer pavilion below was originally from a temple in Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand.
The prince brought it here as a 50th birthday present to his wife, although he never lived to see the completion of its refurbishment.
We were allowed to go up to the second level of the pavilion, where magnificent mural paintings in gold on black lacquer decorate the walls. The murals depict the life of the Buddha.
The eight houses in the palace are connected via bridges. Again, we would take our shoes off to explore within the houses. As the trail starts from one house and ends at another, we were provided plastic bags to carry our shoes as we explored the place.
The darker area on the wooden floor are actually tables! They can be brought up when needed, and retracted into the floor after use.
That’s Baiyoke Sky Tower in the background, the tallest building in Bangkok. You can actually go right up to the rooftop and enjoy the night scenery on a rotating open-air platform.
Can you guess what this is?
And with that, we’re done with our sightseeing for the day!
352-354 Sri Ayudhya Road
Tel: +66 2245 4934 | Website
Nearest BTS: Phaya Thai (Exit 4)
Opening hours: 9am – 6pm daily
Admission: Adults 100 baht; Students 50 baht
Steamboat dinner at Siam Center
During my trips to Bangkok, I would always make a stop for steamboat buffet at coca suki at Siam Center. The buffet used to cost just 99 baht, and you can select all the food you want from a conveyor belt, just like the sushi restaurants in Singapore.
This time round, we went there and found that the price has increased to 219 baht! Nonetheless, it was still cheap by buffet standards, and there was better variety of food than before.
I like that the juices are served with pretty flowers. There’s nothing like a watermelon juice to cool one down after a whole afternoon walking in the sun.
Rama I Road
Nearest BTS: Siam