Lonely Planet review
This canal-side neighbourhood is one of Bangkok’s oldest communities. It dates back to the turbulent years at the end of the 18th century, when Cham Muslims from Cambodia and Vietnam fought on the side of the new Thai king and were rewarded with this plot of land east of the new capital. The immigrants brought their silk-weaving traditions with them, and the community grew when the residents built Khlong Saen Saeb to better connect them to the river.
The 1950s and ’60s were boom years for Baan Krua after Jim Thompson hired the weavers and began exporting their silks across the globe. The last 50 years, however, haven’t been so good. Silk production was moved elsewhere following Thompson’s disappearance and the community spent 15 years successfully fighting to stop a freeway being built right through it. Through all this many Muslims moved out of the area; today it is estimated that only about 30% of the population is Muslim, the rest primarily immigrants from northeast Thailand. However, Baan Krua retains its Muslim character, and one of the original families is still weaving silk on old teak looms. The village, which is great for self-guided exploration, consists of old, tightly packed homes threaded by tiny paths barely wide enough for two people to pass. It has been described as a slum, but the house-proud residents are keen to point out that they might not live in high-rise condos, but that doesn’t make their old community a slum.