Welcome to my favourite temple in Bangkok: Wat Arun! When thinking about Thailand, three major things pop up in my mind: Buddhist Temples, Thai food and beaches. If I had to decide which one is my favourite, I won’t be able to! During my 3 weeks spent in Thailand, I visited more than 50 Buddhist temples mainly in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. There is no secret: I’m not religious, but I am mostly attracted to Buddhism and I always feel welcome when I enter a Buddhist temple. And my list of temples which I wanted to visit in Thailand was an ample confirmation about that.
The very first temple that we visited in Bangkok was Wat Arun, locally known as Wat Chaeng and commonly known as “the Temple of Dawn”. The “Temple of Dawn “is one of the most famous highlights of Bangkok and one of the first class and most revered Royal Temples in Thailand. Wat Arun is situated in Thonburi District, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River.
How to Get to Wat Arun?
It is very easy, but also recommendable to get to Wat Arun by boat. Exploring Bangkok by boat is amazing and a boat trip along the Chao Phraya River is always worth it! Many different boats and boat companies run up and down the river. If you manage to get one of the local boats, you will pay about 10 or 15 Baht. Tourist boats are more expensive – one-way ticket could cost something like 40 Baht.
If you’re coming from or getting to Wat Pho Temple and Grand Palace you can catch a boat at the Phra Athit pier, just around the corner from Rambuttri. The ride costs only 3 Baht and takes about 5 minutes.
When to Visit Wat Arun?
The name “The Temple of Dawn” is not chosen accidentally. Wat Arun is absolutely stunning during the sunset and at night because it creates a stunning reflection and glitter, very easy to see from afar during this time of the day.
The most spectacular views can be seen from the east side of Chao Phraya River at sunset as Wat Arun’s colourfully decorated spires sparkle radiantly over the water.
However, the best and quietest time to visit is in the early morning before the crowds!
Wat Arun: Architecture and Design
For us travellers and tourists, Wat Arun is a temple we explore and adore. But for locals, the temple of Dawn is one of the most important places of worship in Bangkok.
The design of Wat Arun is very different to the other temples you can visit in Bangkok. It’s not all glitzy, sparkly and gold as Wat Pho Temple or The Grand Palace. People say that the Temple of Dawn is like the sister of Angkor Wat, due to the similarities between the two.
Wat Arun is best known for its massive prang built in Khmer architectural style. The prang of Wat Arun is the highest in Thailand (79m high). The massive, elongated prang built in Khmer style is beautifully decorated in unique floral design made from Chinese broken porcelain, coloured glass and cowrie shells. The multicoloured pieces of porcelain have been used as ballast on the trade ships between Bangkok and China.
The main Khmer-style prang is surrounded by four smaller prangs which symbolize the terrestrial representation of the thirty-three heavens. You can climb the central prang if you wish, the steps are very steep but the views over the Chao Phraya River, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho are definitely worth it!
While climbing to the top of the main prang, you’ll notice the different layers of decoration which symbolize different kinds of heaven in the Buddhist and Hindu mythology. The heavens are supported by half-humans called Kinnaree, frightening Yaksas, and demon guards.
The History of Wat Arun
Wat Arun was envisioned by King Taksin in 1768. Back in the days, the area of the Temple of Dawn was chosen as the location for the new capital of the Thonburi Kingdom. Originally, the temple was named Wat Jaeng and it was built on the remains Wat Makok – a major Buddhist temple during the Ayutthaya era.
In 1767 the former capital Ayutthayam was destructed and taken over by the Burmese. Therefore, the King Taksin established Thonburi on the West bank of the Chao Phraya river. This was the begin of the new capital and the start of the Rattanakosin era in 1782.
The beautiful decoration of the temple came during the reign of Rama III, who also made the Prang the highest in Thailand.
Wat Arun: Things to Know Before You Go
Official Name: Wat Arun Ratchawaram Ratchaworamawihan
Adress: 158 Thanon Wang Doem, Khwaeng Wat Arun, Khet Bangkok Yai
Opening Hours: Wat Arun is open every day from Monday-Sunday – 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
Tickets: 100 baht (0,80 €)
Massage: From 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
Hotels Near Wat Pho: Find the best deals here!
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