Wat Arun, also known as the temple of Dawn, is a major landmark of Bangkok, built before 1656. It’s a lot more modest than Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace or Wat Pho and the Giant Reclining Buddha, but in many ways, its iconic shape is better known. Just look at the back of a 10 Baht coin and you will recognise it instantly. The full name of the temple is Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawora Mahavihara, but chances are, you will never hear it.
The best-known part of Wat Arun is the central spire, or Prang, which is 66.8 to 80 metres high (depending on the sources), surrounded by 4 smaller towers. That central iconic building was actually added much later, in the 19th century. The shapes and architectures are beautiful, and while visiting, try to imagine how impressive and majestuous this monument must have been in the era it was built. Today, Bangkok is a fast-growing forest of immense towers competing in height and design, and it is good to remember there was a time when Was Arun was a jaw-dropping sight.
The prangs are beautifully ornated with shells and pieces of colourful porcelain that were apparently used as ballast in boats coming from China. The top is ornated with elephants and the base is surrounded by animals and mythical soldiers.
The Temple of Dawn was renovated in 2017 and somehow lost something in the process. While it is still very beautiful and worth adding to your Must-Do in Bangkok list, it looks a little blank. This often happens with renovation, and locals mention it frequently: it’s not the same anymore. In addition, you can’t climb those famous steep stairs that were a little scary in the past!
Like most visitors, you probably will be attracted to the main group of stupas and get your photos and Instagram selfies done, but don’t stop your exploration yet! Walk around the entire grounds, step into the temples on the side and behind The Temple of Dawn. The ordination hall with its line of golden sitting Buddhas is superb and witnessing chanting monks is a moment to appreciate, reminding you to slow down and take the time to enjoy those unique minutes.
The group of souvenir shops by the river is where everyone goes next on their way to the piers, but it’s very touristic and rather old fashions items. You can sit in the shade of the trees and buy some freshly peeled mangoes with a real coconut juice.
Best way to visit the temple
The Temple of Dawn is just opposite The Grand Palace and Wat Pho, so saving half a day to visit the three most important temple in Bangkok is a good idea. In addition, the yellow longtail boats often offer to see the temples in addition to a canal tour (Khlongs), which are also worth exploring.
360 View of War Arun
Wat Arun Information
Address: 158 Thanon Wang Doem, Wat Arun, Bangkok Yai, Bangkok 10600
Open: 8 am – 6 pm
Phone: 02 891 2185
Price: 50 Baht
Dress Code: No short skirts or short pants, no sleeveless t-shirts
Built: Before 1656