Wat Arun: Bangkok’s Most Iconic Temple With Photogenic Architecture & Chao Phraya River Views

A guide to Wat Arun 

Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn has attracted many visitors, both Thais and foreigners alike. 

Considering the temple’s unique architectural design, it’s not a surprise that it’s seen as one of the most stunning temples in Thailand. In the evening, a spotlight shines on the spires from the temple grounds, illuminating the temple in romantic hues. 

Thus, visiting one of Thailand’s prominent landmarks needs to be added to your post-covid bucket list.

Visiting Wat Arun

Commonly called Wat Jaeng by locals, the temple is situated on the west bank of the Chaophraya River. There are three levels to the main prang, which translates to ‘spire’, all connected by a staircase decorated with ornaments. It is a little bit of a lengthy climb but it’s certainly worth it. 

It’s important to note that like all temples in Thailand, Wat Arun has a dress code: visitors are required to wear shirts with sleeves and bottoms that cover their knees. The dress protocol is enforced in accordance with Buddhist teachings of ‘respectful’ attire on sacred grounds – because not everyone is ready-dressed for this, most of Thailand’s temples offer shawls for women to cover their shoulders. 

The 3-tiered spires of the Temple of Dawn

Built during the reign of King Rama III, a king who favored Chinese-style decor, the sspires and buildings at Wat Arun are ornamented with pieces of Chinese porcelain, shells, and Chinese statues.

Image credit: @mainy1330

The stairway to the steep spires are divided into 3 levels, which represent the physical and spiritual realms in Buddhist and Hindu cosmology.

 As the uppermost level is reserved for deities, visitors can only access the first and second level of Wat Arun’s spires. The staircase’s vibrant adornments made of porcelain glitter against the temple’s otherwise minimal colouring. 

Second level represents the four small spires that are placed around the central prang – this represents North, East, West and South in the physical universe.
Image credit: @lookkade_raisin

The Central Prang represents Mount Meru, which is the sacred centre of all spiritual and physical universes from the Hindu cosmology.
Image credit: @lookade_raisin 

The towering central prang was decorated to glimmer in the sunshine, sunset and at dawn.

Image credit: @ju_st_diaries

The spot light that shimmers on the grand historical infrastructure. Visitors are welcome to roam the temple grounds in the evening, but the upper floors of the spire and the Ordination Hall are closed.
Image credit: @ronboidyaphotography

The Ordination Hall at Wat Arun

Image credit: @thewanderer_th

The two giants – or yak – that guard the entrance of sacred Ordination Hall, which is ubosot in Thai. Similar to the spires, the gateway is also decorated with shards of Chinese porcelain. 

Image credit: Wat Arun 1

Busts of Chinese-style lion statues surround the sacred Ordination Hall – its pillars have intricate hand-painted flowers on them. 

Buddhist rituals inside the Ordination Hall
Image credit: @ironessa

Image credit: Best Price Travel

Once you visit the ordination hall, it’s important not to walk past the locals and talk whilst they’re worshipping inside because it’s a form of local respect.

Image credit:@g.xydias

Surrounding the ordination hall, there’s a Buddha Gallery or Rabiang Khot that houses over twenty buddha statues – it is respectful to avoid touching the statues.   

Crossing the Chaophraya River

Image credit: Culture Trip

The stunning landmark is accessible through ferry rides from the Tha Thien Pier, which is the closest pier from the Grand Palace – the boat operates daily from 8AM 5.30PM.

Wat Arun is one of those craftsman works and iconic monuments that shouldn’t be missed whilst you’re planning to travel to Thailand.

Wat Arun (Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan)
Address: 158 Thanon Wang Doem, Wat Arun, Bangkok Yai, Bangkok 10600
Opening Hours: 8AM – 6PM, Daily
Nearest Train Station: MRT Itsaraphap
Telephone: +66 2 891 2185
Admission: Thais (Free), Non-Thais ฿100 (~USD3.30)
Wat Arun website

Google Maps

A list of must-do’s in Thailand once Covid-19 is over: 

Cover images adapted from (Clockwise from Left): @hide.fks, @tak_photograph, @ansnhnmy

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