Along the Chao Phraya River stands a temple of great beauty: Wat Arun, or Temple of Dawn. A true symbol of Bangkok, you’ll understand why it attracts locals and tourists alike once you’ve visited it. Here’s your guide.

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History of the temple

Built during the Ayutthaya period, its name is derived from the Indian God of Dawn Aruna. For a time, the temple was home to the famous Emerald Buddha, now housed in Wat Phra Kaew.

Construction of the prang (or tower) began during the reign of King Rama II and was completed by King Rama III. This important and distinctive structure rises to a height of 82 metres, making it the tallest monument of its time.

The temple’s beauty probably lies in its decorations made from broken Chinese porcelain as the different colors and floral mosaics create a unique and enchanting setting.

An icon of the city, the temple can even be found on 10-baht coins.

Visit of Wat Arun Temple

Wat Arun temple in Bangkok

The stunning Wat Arun temple, which is an architectural representation of Mount Meru – the center of a lotus-shaped world – has many points of interest:

The Main Prang

The first thing you’ll see across the river and for which the temple is famous, its grand prang, is a must-see on your visit to Bangkok. Colorful, surrounded by numerous pagodas, this stunning Khmer-style tower is even more attractive up close. The details and various sculptures truly illustrate the country’s history and craftsmanship.

Wat Arun temple details
Part of Wat Arun temple

The steep steps leading up to the tower’s footbridge are a must to admire the magnificent view of the river and temple gardens.

Wat Arun tower

The Ordination Hall

Just before entering the hall, you’ll see the two demons guarding the door. You’ll then cross a small but beautiful courtyard before entering the ubosot (the other name for the ordination hall), where you’ll find the Golden Niramitr Buddha Statue.

Ordination Hall in Wat Arun temple
Courtyard inside Wat Arun temple

Once inside, you’ll be impressed by the peaceful atmosphere and red-and-white motifs. The doors, columns, Buddha statues lined up in a seated position and murals are all splendid, and I spent quite some time discovering all the little details.

Inside the Ordination Hall in Bangkok

Chinese Sculptures

Wat Arun temple is home to numerous stone warriors that remind us of the blending of Thai and Chinese cultures. You’ll see representations of these relationships in numerous works of art around the site, as well as in the gardens inside the Ordination Hall.

Chinese sculptures in Wat Arun

Best time to go

To avoid the crowds, plan to arrive early, i.e. when the temple opens: 8 a.m. If you can, try not to visit the site when the sun is strongest, or bring an umbrella and plenty of water.

You can also get a nice view of the temple from across the river and wait for the sunset, which is one of Bangkok’s most famous sights. You can sit at a bar or simply admire the panorama for free on one of the piers in front of the Rajiini School.

How to get to Wat Arun?

Depending on where you’re staying, there are several options:

  • Walk + ferry: you can walk – yes, walk – to Tha Tian Pier and take the ferry across the river to Wat Arun. It’s a great way to see the sights, and you can grab a bite to eat in the markets before your visit.
  • MRT + ferry: get off at Sanam Chai MRT station and walk to Tha Tian Pier. You can then take the ferry across the river to the temple.

Tip: the entrance to the pier can be difficult to find. To get there, you’ll have to cross a street full of restaurants and stores. Go straight on to the end of the street, up the steps and through the “tunnel” to the pier.

> Bring some cash for the ferry and temple entrance. The ferry ticket costs THB 4 per person.

Entrance fee & Opening hours

A ticket costs THB 100 (approx. $2.50) for tourists. The temple is open from 8am to 6pm every day.

Dress code

As in all Thailand’s temples, you should dress respectfully. This means covering not only your shoulders but also your knees, so no dresses or skirts above the knee for women. Nor should you wear transparent clothing.

You can always rent a sarong at the entrance if necessary for THB 20 and a THB 100 deposit (refundable).

What other temples caught your eye during your stay in Thailand? Any suggestions? Share them in the comments section!

You can also find out more about one of my favorite temples in Chiang Mai here!

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