The Bangkokian Museum in Bangkok’s Bangrak district also goes by the name of Bangkok Folk Museum, and is a bit of a hidden treasure. It doesn’t get many visitors and even many locals don’t know about it.
But it really is worth a visit if you want to see how a typical middle class Thai family lived pre and post World War II.
This museum can be a little difficult to find, and it’s easy to walk straight passed it without realizing that it’s there. But it’s an easy walk from Bangkok’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Assumption Cathedral. Just walk towards Charoenkrung Road, turn left, walk for around 100 meters and turn right into Charoenkrung Soi 43.
Walk along this road, under the flyover, and you’ll see the museum on your right, just before the junction with Maha Set Road. Look for the gate that’s shown in the image above. The entrance is through another gate that’s to the right of that. Ring the bell and the guard will open the gate. You’ll then have to sign the visitors’ book. Entry is free.
The museum has three buildings: the main house where the Surawadee family used to live, a smaller house that was built for Dr Francis Christian and a more modern house that houses a museum of old and not so old items.
The Main House
The main house was built in 1937 and cost a total of 2,400 baht ($80). The house was extended in 1960 to include an east wing.
The house is very airy, which means that it stays cool even without the use of fans. It also has a fairly large terrace area overlooking the front garden.
In the image above you can see the main living area, with the dining room behind it.
All the rooms in the house have windows that look out over the beautiful garden.
The upstairs has a bedroom and also a large dressing room.
There is an old gramophone in the bedroom upstairs.
Dr Francis Christian’s House
The second house was built for Dr Francis Christian, but he died before moving in. The house was built elsewhere but moved to the current location when the Surawadee family inherited it.
This house was originally built in 1927. Due to lack of space at the new location, the house was made a little smaller than the original.
This house also has windows that look out over the garden area.
Next to the bedroom is a small consulting room that was never used. But it has all the original items.
The consulting room has a medical cabinet and some other items, including the odd scale shown below. The scale need to be read using a mirror.
The Third Building
The third house is more of a traditional museum downstairs, with a library and exhibition area upstairs. The items are a mixture of old and not so old.
There is an interesting area at the beginning that has some old style kitchen implements.
A cooking area like that shown above would have been on the terrace outside the house.
You still see cooking areas like the one show above in more rural Thai houses.
My grandmother in the UK used to have a washboard like the one shown above.
You will also find old tools similar to those above in the UK.
There are also some fairly modern items on display, like the record player and record rack shown below. These are almost identical to what I had as a teenager.
Upstairs is a library area.
The museum is set in a beautiful garden area.
The garden area is a nice place to just sit and relax.
There is also a 4th building that has the museum shop downstairs. The owner lives upstairs.
Bangkokian Museum Information
Address: 273 Charoenkrung Road Soi 43, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500
Opening Hours: Wed-Sun 10:00-16:00
Hotels Near Bangkokian Museum
One of the nearest hotels to the museum is the wonderful Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a 5-star hotel. For other hotels in the area, check out Agoda.com. Search for Bangkok, then select “Riverside Hotels” from the right hand menu.