Wang Suan Pakkad ("Palace of the Lettuce Garden") is one of Bangkok's most delightful retreats. This peaceful oasis was the home of Princess Chumbhon of Nakhon Sawan, an avid art collector and one of the country's most dedicated archaeologists -- credited with having partly financed the excavations at Ban Chiang I in 1967. In 1952, five 19th-century teak houses were moved from Chiang Mai and rebuilt in a beautifully landscaped garden on a private klong, separated by a high wall from the tumult of Bangkok's streets. The Lacquer Pavilion (moved here in 1958) came from a monastery grounds and was a birthday present from the prince to the princess.
The balance of the collection here is diverse, with Khmer sculpture, ivory boxes, and some marvelous prints by European artists depicting images of Siam before the country opened to the Western world. There is an entire room of objects from the Ban Chiang I site, including pottery and jewelry. Look out for a superb Buddha head from Ayutthaya, and an example of a royal barge outside in a shed in the garden. Be sure to ask to see the pavilion housing the princess's collection of Thai and Chinese ceramics. The gift shop at Wang Suan Pakkad offers reproductions, and prices are quite reasonable.
- © Frommer's 2013