Baan Silapin Artist’s House -Traditional Thai Puppet Masters
This traditional old wooden home along the Klong Bang Luang canal on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River is home to a community artists’ group and its projects, the highlight of which is the classical khon Thai marionette puppet performances held daily at 2pm. The performances are free and authentic, and the charming neighborhood makes for a worthwhile excursion into the real Bangkok of old.
Houses in the Klong Bang Luang community of Bangkok sit on wooden slats built over the canal and are both sleepy and atmospheric. On weekends, residents host a small market, and it’s a great spot to explore via a boat tour or by wandering the walkways along the water, experiencing an authentic Thai neighborhood. The highlight of the town is a restored 200-year-old wooden home that is now a cafe and community center that mentors and teaches creative arts to local youngsters, helping them to become performers and ensure that the lineage of Thai puppetry and other arts continues.
Lakhon Lek - An ancient Art
Thai theatrical puppetry, known as hun lakhon lek, has been around since the reign of King Rama VI and is the last remaining form of ancient puppetry that is still performed today. The same attention to graceful manipulation of the puppets is still adhered to, with three performers needed to make the pulleys and levers on each puppet run smoothly. Men control the monkey and demon puppets, whereas women control the heroes and heroines.
A view behind the curtain
The stage inside the house sits in front of an abandoned Buddhist temple, which makes the performance all the more atmospheric. You can view the performance from downstairs, but it’s also possible to wander upstairs where there is an art gallery full of paintings for sale, and you can peer over the balcony and get a behind the scenes look at the puppets and performers.
Travel Tip: 309 Phetkasem Soi 28 Road. It’s easiest to get here via the Skytrain to the Bang Wa terminus in Thonburi, and then grab a taxi and tell the driver Talad Nam Klong Bang Luang or Baan Silapin or Wat Kuhasawan as they ought to know at least one of these. If you're looking for more cultural activities for your day, consider stopping by Wat Hua Krabeu, or one of the many Bangkok Spirit Houses