Jim Thompson House Museum
American entrepreneur Jim Thompson completed his Thai home in 1959. The structure is made up of six teak wood houses, and many of the construction materials were brought down from the city of Ayutthaya. Thompson, who was a self-proclaimed architect before moving to Thailand and making Thai silk famous, put many of his own personal touches into the construction of his traditional Thai home. For example, the bracing of each building can be seen as each wall’s exterior faces the home’s interior. The house was converted into the Jim Thompson House Museum after his disappearance in 1967, and it welcomes some 220,000 people each year. It houses an extensive collection of unique Thai art pieces, enough to inspire even the most unimaginative of visitors.
The elephant is one of the most revered symbols in Thailand, so revered in fact that it was made the national animal, and was once the main figure on Thailand’s flag. These animals are oftentimes the main catalyst behind festivals and celebrations in Thailand. They make an appearance in some of the most lavish décor, too. There are entire temples dedicated to elephants, as well as souvenirs and interior decorations emblazoned with the elephant: pillows, tapestries, figurines, and much more.
Homes, windows, doors, attractive interior wainscoting, furniture, flooring: almost every part of a home can be transformed with an attractive teak wood decoration. Teak wood became less popular as deforestation became a rising concern in Northern Thailand. Teak was the most desired and sought-after wood in the country. International demand was high too, and deforestation was a big problem in the 1970s and 1980s. Only about 17% of healthy forest remains in Thailand today, making such products difficult to find. The country is trying to repopulate these forests via plantations.
Spirit Houses can be found across Thailand. The wooden structures reflect animist practices, and can be found in the most obscure and seemingly random places: from the busiest of street corners in the capital to rural cities neglected by tourists. Most Spirit Houses are made of wood, though some are made of brick or concrete. Small animal figurines usually surround the exterior of the tiny home, and things like incense, candles, and flowers decorate the symbolic homes. Some Spirit Houses are relatively mundane, their main purpose being to shelter the spirits that frequent them. Others are lavishly designed and often beautiful. Many look like miniature, intricately designed temples, with painted and colorful exteriors.
Thailand is well-known for its stunning celadon and Benjarong pottery. Production of celadon pottery dates back to the Sukhothai Period; it is embellished with a greenish glaze that resembles jade. It was discovered some 2,000 years ago in China but eventually made its way to Thailand, as Thais perfected this particular ceramic. Quality Benjarong pieces are normally hand painted, with designs in gold. The practice originated during the reign of King Rama V.
The Artist’s House, otherwise known as Baan Silapin or Klong Bang Luang, is a 200-year-old home that sits along a murky khlong (canal) in Bangkok. Located in the erstwhile capital Thonburi, the traditional Thai home has become a place for creative Thais and tourists to gather, work, drink coffee, explore the gift shop, or watch a traditional Thai puppetry show. The house is a hub for all things creative, and that includes the house itself. Visitors will be inspired with many ideas to take back to their own homes, as the Artist’s House is embellished with stained glassed windows, vibrant canvas pieces, painted wooden furnishings, and more.
National Museum Bangkok
Thai artifacts make up almost the entirety of the National Museum Bangkok, and some of them are quite ancient. It is one of the largest museums in Southeast Asia. There is one particular section that seems to have been untouched since its transformation into a museum by King Rama V: the old quarters of Princess Sri Sudarak. The furnishings seem to have been untouched by visitors. Also feast your eyes upon King Pinklao’s bedroom furniture, also housed in the museum.