Like many tourists or long-term residents in Bangkok (or “non-residents” as our visa stamps define us) I must have visited the Immigration Office in Soi Suan Phlu a myriad number of times, yet it was only recently that I discovered M.R. Kukrit’s Heritage Home (Thai: บ้าน ม.ร.ว. คึกฤทธิ์) for myself, in a small road branching away from the main soi.
As a foreign visitor to Thailand, you may not heard of the late Maj. Gen. Mom Rajawongse (M.R.) Kukrit Pramoj (b.1911 – d.1995). The son of a prince, Kukrit came from a highly privileged background and enjoyed many of the associated benefits including a western education. After graduating from Queen’s College, Oxford University, his varied career included banking, politics, and the arts. Among his other accomplishments, Kukrit founded and wrote for his own newspaper, the Siam Rath, and contributed extensively to Thai literature.
Having somewhat coincidentally played the leader of a fictitious Southeast Asian country in the Marlon Brando movie The Ugly American (1963), Kukrit later served as Prime Minister of Thailand from 1975 to 1976. His own home was also the scene of real drama and political turmoil, including a ransacking spree by police.
Entering the already familiar Soi Suan Phlu, I took the first turning right into a small and unpromising looking side road named Soi Phra Phinit. Oh, in case you don’t know (and how would you?) the name is pronounced “pra” (as in practice) “pin it” and not “fra fin it”.
Walking along the soi, the neighborhood quickly improved from the rather tatty buildings of Soi Suan Phlu, giving way to better looking detached homes and condominiums. Like many roads in Bangkok, there was no pavement to walk on (or for the dogs to poop on), but the road was quiet.
Having reached Kukrit’s home, the thing that first caught my eye was the rather professional looking signage and entrance gate. I was pleased to see a standard fee of 50 baht for adults and 20 baht for children, with no difference for Thai and foreign visitors.
Having paid my fee and been given a map (probably not necessary) and pamphlet, my first sight was a rather pleasant looking pavilion. This gave way to a small garden area and then a larger wooden building.
Reading the guide as I walked, I discovered how Kukrit had built his house over a number of years by recycling smaller traditional wooden homes that had been dismantled and brought to Bangkok.
Although it has been registered by the Department of Fine Arts as the Home of an Important Person, there were areas in which I felt it did not live up to my expectations. In particular, the gardens to the rear were rather ordinary by appearance (I think the description “western style” was used somewhere), and the central garden, which I think should have been a focal point, was sparsely planted and worn, possibly by the roaming dogs.
All things considered, my visit to Kukrit’s Heritage Home was a pleasant break from the busy streets of Bangkok. It remains an interesting place that was home to a notable man, and depending on your interests may be a good place to visit.
M.R. Kukrit's Heritage Home
19 Soi Pra Phinit
South Sathorn Road
The residence is located about midway in Soi Prapinit (ซ.พระพินิจ) and can be reached from Soi Sathorn 3, more commonly referred to as Soi Suan Phlu (ซ.สวนพลู), or from Soi Narathiwas Rajanagarindra 7 (ซ.นารธิวาสราชนครินทร์ 7). It's conveniently located about 15 minutes' walk from BTS Nong Chonsi station.