Forget the co-working spaces.
If you’re looking for a really peaceful and creative space to work in, the Artists House or Baan Silapin in the old part of Bangkok is a space worth visiting.
Baan Silapin is not on the tourist trail, other than for curiosity’s sake. It’s been written about as an ‘off the beaten path’ stop for a trip to Bangkok, and it remains that way. Seldom do tourists who visit the 200-year old house stop to enjoy its peace and relaxing atmosphere, two prerequisites for a creative couple of hours.
I was looking for a quiet place to write for a couple of hours, and rather than stay in the apartment, I thought, why not go to a place where I might be inspired by other creative activity? So I headed over to Thonburi, the old part of Bangkok, to work quietly at Baan Silapin.
With me in the house was a painter working on a large canvas; a man who was working on a spreadsheet on his laptop, and a small group of college kids sketching the houses lining the canal flanking the house.
Everyone was focused on their work. The intensity of the concentration gave the space a good vibe, and I soon settled into my own work.
Baan Silapin holds a local affection for its space, welcoming creatives to work quietly. And it has conveniences that every writer or artist needs: coffee, a restroom, and food nearby. The coffee stall in the house serves both hot and cold coffee.
If you’re hungry, across the canal is a restaurant that serves phad thai and noodle soup called Kutiau Rua or boat noodles, and a mean mango and sticky rice. That’s all they make, and they make these well. Sometimes, a vendor on a paddle boat will stop.
The real lure of Baan Silapin is its atmosphere. For a person trying to create, the most precious resource can be a relaxed alertness, what creativity scientist Mihaly Czikzentmihalyi’s research reports as the optimal state for creativity to emerge. Flow, the state of losing time and finding laserlike focus on work at hand, is most likely to happen to a person when he or she is relaxed and able to attend all senses to the work without distraction.
At Baan Silapin, I’ve previously edited photos and written thousands of words, all in a bubble that no one has popped with questions or conversation. In some cases, this isolated consciousness is necessary to get writing done, and Baan Silapin creatives understand that respect of time and space that artists need to hone their focus.
For a bit of a screen break you can go upstairs to the studio rooms. One studio has some busts for artist studies and somewhat clean brushes. Another studio has a desk, and another one holds the altar that is meant for tribute to the supernatural patrons of khon, masked Thai dance. The altar features Hanuman, the monkey god in the Ramayana as well as an effigy of the patron of puppet masters.
How to get to Baan Silapin
Take the BTS train system to Talad Phlu station on the Sukhumvit Line.
From the Talad Phlu exit, take a taxi to Charnsanitwong Soi 3.
Go into the lane, cross the bridge and turn immediately left on the other side of the canal. Walk through the porches of the wooden houses until you reach the last house on the block, and you arrive at Baan Silapin.
Admission to Baan Silapin is free, and I would recommend a donation to help support the maintenance of this wonderful artist house.