The man credited with putting coveted Thai silks on the map is Jim Thompson, an American spy-turned-entrepreneur. The Jim Thompson House, the villa he jigsawed together from historic Thai houses salvaged from the ancient capital, Ayutthaya, is a 10-minute taxi ride from the Conrad Bangkok, and a prime place for a quick culture fix (not to mention a must-stop for the quintessential Siamese souvenirs). Load up at the gift shop on first-rate silk scarves, dresses, neckties, toys, and the softest cotton tees in town. Time permitting, snag a table in the café’s garden overlooking the reflecting pool. Snack on Thai-fusion fish tacos and cool off with a passionfruit and mint cocktail. Or, head upstairs to the wine bar with its floor-to-ceiling views overlooking the compound’s leafy grounds. It’s a meditative vantage point to mull over the circumstances of Thompson’s never-solved disappearance in the Malaysian highlands back in 1967.
Hail a taxi for the 10-minute drive, or take the SkyTrain BTS to National Stadium (which is faster if their traffic). Jim Thompson House runs free regular tuk tuk shuttles from the station to their property.
JIM THOMPSON HOUSE: 1 Wang Mai; +66-2216-7368; jimthompsonhouse.com; open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily