Price: Free, but donation requested
The Bangkokian Museum is trio of restored heritage houses stands in the cool shade surrounded by trees. The Bangkokian Museum displays what one upper middle-class home looked like in Bangkok during the early to mid-20th century. Despite being in a very busy area of Bangkok, the gardens are a peaceful haven. the museum was bequeathed to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration
The houses were donated as a museum to the city in 2004 and the interiors are arranged in the style indicative of the World War II era. Old black-and-white photos of the original residents, original four-post beds, crystal, big upright pianos and cigar and tin collections all combine to give the Bangkokian an authentic and charming feel that many museums in Bangkok can’t reproduce. Gardens and fountains fill out the site, making this a tranquil place to take a break from the city.
The museum sits quietly down an otherwise normal side street off Charoen Krung Road, in the historic Bang Rak area.
First up, the main house, built in 1937 with original louvered wood shutters, features a broad front stoop and immaculately varnished wooden floors lead that lead you inside to a living room, dining room, bedrooms and washroom that will transport you to the World War II era.
Every room has the original Bakelite switches, antique clocks, huge old valve radios and old cabinets. If it wasn’t for some of the most valuable items being housed in glass boxes, you would almost expect the family to walk in and begin their daily rituals at any moment. These include the old Benjarong style jars, made from Thai porcelain in the five basic colours, from the King Rama V period while some of the porcelain pieces are from the early Rattanakosin era.
Head through to the wide deck at the back of the property to reach the second house, built in 1929 on Soi Ngam Duphli and transported to its current location at the museum. Originally the home of an Indian-British doctor who rented from the owners, it features a large open-sided living area on the ground floor, and an office and bedroom upstairs. Also on display here is his cigar collection, and various stoves dating back to the early-20th century. The style of this home is very different. Almost all of the walls, floors and ceilings are made of dark teak wood with more windows and less wall space. The ground floor holds a small dining area and office while the upper floor features a large bedroom with an immaculately waxed floor. Again, everything is set to welcome guests and the bed is made, ready and waiting for its owner.
The third building houses a kitchen and woodworking work area on the ground floor, complete with old woks, ceramic stoves and rusty tools. Upstairs, there’s an eclectic display of vintage toys, dishes and advertisements, including many from post-World War II Europe. There are plenty of knick-knacks to keep you interested in discovering the detail and there is also a gallery of historic photos taken around Bangkok and Thailand.
The Bangkokian Museum is more of a side stop than an attraction you’ll want to spend too much time at. If you happen to explore this part of Bangkok riverside, it’s well worth a visit, especially if you’ve been to Bangkok before and are looking for something off the beaten track.
Walk into the garden to the reception counter and just write down your name inside the guest book, entry is free.
The Bangkokian Museum is at 273 Soi Charoen Krung 43, near the Sri Rat Expressway not far from the Chao Phraya River and the intersection of Soi Charoen Krung 43 and Maha Set Road. It’s open from 10am – 4pm, Wednesday to Sunday.
The Bangkokian Museum in Bang Rak is hard to find and isn’t well known. It’s a simple, discreet museum and a bit of a ‘frozen-in-time’ gem.
For those who would like to dig a little deeper into local history, The Bangkokian is conjoined with Bangrak Museum, the BMA local museum of Bang Rak District. It houses historical records of the district, and an insight into the origins of the early roads and canals. It focuses on the canals and the windmills that once characterised the area.
We’d love to show you what living in Bangkok used to look like in days gone by. If you’re keen to see some other interesting museums that preserve historical visions of Bangkok life then check out Jim Thompson House, M.R. Kukrit’s Heritage Home and Kamthieng House Museum (The Siam Society).