Quiet afternoons are hard to come by in the City of Angels. Epic traffic and herds of tourists make sure of it, especially at some of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. Luckily for visitors, there is one place they can venture to that is completely off the beaten path and free of charge. Here is everything you need to know about the Artist’s House in Bangkok.
Long-tail boats trudge on sleepily, carrying nothing but a handful of life jacket-wearing tourists, all of whom are smiling and waving. Large fish break the river’s otherwise calm surface on occasion. Except for the lapping of the canal’s water against the charming homes that sit just above its murky surface, the area is quiet. That, and the faint chatter of those visitors to the Artist’s House.
Anyone with even the slightest tinge of creativity needs to add this artistic spot to their travel itinerary. The house is over 200 years old and sits right along the khlong (canal) and shines with ingenuity. The Artist’s House, otherwise known as Baan Silapin and Klong Bang Luang, is a place where both young and old Thais and very few foreigners gather to enjoy drinks, food, the community, and even a traditional Thai puppet show that the house puts on. The Artist’s House is found tucked away behind a few winding sois (streets) in Thonburi, Bangkok’s old capital. A handful of signs along the way let visitors know they have come to the right place.
Visitors first meander by a few restaurants before finally arriving at the Artist’s House. Those with an appetite should consider indulging in one of the delicious and affordable riverside restaurants serving up delicious Thai cuisine. One of these restaurants is Ran Krua Kan Aoy, sitting just before the entrance of the Artist’s House. Some of the tasty meals on the menu include seafood tom yam noodle, a number of Thai curry-based soups, and even some unique eats, including fried frog with garlic pepper.
After a quick meal, visitors finally make their way to the Artist’s House. Everything about this unique attraction exudes character. The wooden tables are speckled, rather stained, with colorful paint. Portraits, paintings, and drawings decorate the main seating area, which is bursting with charm. Wooden doors open up to ample seating along the river in addition to a dock from which visitors can sit and swing their bare feet. Hanging potted plants sit above those dwelling on the water’s edge, with charming trinkets found throughout as well.
In addition to the artistic décor, visitors can also browse a gift shop of sorts, although it’s more than that. While it is a relatively small space, it’s chock-full of handmade works of art, from postcards to wooden Muay Thai figurines. The souvenirs are cheaper than those in any of the main markets in and around the city as well. For example, hand-painted and photographed postcards are only ฿5 (approximately US$0.15) each, with an additional deal of buy 10 postcards and get one free. Thai silk screens, painted and colorful masks, stickers, and books are just a few other things visitors can expect to find at the Artist’s House.
Though the house itself is decked out in art, Artist’s House is also a gathering place for artists. Many of them huddle around the wooden tables, armed with pencils, paper, and their creativity and spend an afternoon getting inventive. Visitors can join them if they want, with sketchbooks also for sale in the gift shop.
As if the attraction could not get any more unique, it is also home to an old white chedi that sits just adjacent to the gift shop. It is here that a puppetry show takes place. These shows are hard to come by nowadays, and the one at the Artist’s House is incredibly entertaining and funny, regardless of the language barrier. Almost the entirety of the show is in Thai, but even those who do not speak the language will surely be entertained throughout the performance. The house is completely free to enter, though there is a donation box for the performance. Shows are every day, except Wednesday, at 2 pm. Because the country is currently in mourning, the performance lasts a little under an hour.
Before the puppetry show, be sure to grab an affordable drink from the small café the Artist’s House has. The drink menu is limited but has certainly enough to please everyone, with beverages including a lemon tea, latte, and cocoa.
How to get there
The closest BTS Skytrain Station to the Artist’s House is Bang Wa. From there, visitors can either walk about 20 minutes or get a motorbike taxi to their final destination. The motorbike taxi ride should be about ฿30 (approx. US$0.87).