What Arun is one of Bangkok’s most famous landmarks and known from many postcards. And, also one of everyone’s top bucket list when planning to visit Bangkok. Moreover, the Wat Arun is best known for its massive prang, a tower on the Chao Phra river bank built in Khmer architectural style.
When it comes to must-see temples in Bangkok, Wat Arun is definitely in the top three, commonly known as “the Temple of Dawn”. It is one of only six temples of the highest grade of the first class Royal Temples, and therefore one of Thailand’s most revered and oldest temples. Everyone’s seen at least one variation of that classic riverside scenery shot with Wat Arun either captured at dreamy sunrise or stunningly lit up at night. Not only a remarkable sight thanks to its unique design, Wat Arun’s prime riverside location further adds to its appeal.
To make your perfect visit to Wat Arun you should plan your time well, because the temple area is a quite large and so there are many beautiful buildings, pavilions and statues to discover. Therefore, the best time for a visit is in the morning or late afternoon which it is most quiet and idyllic.
The Entrance of the Ordination Hall
At the entrance to the Ubosot is the famous archway with the crown, where you take amazing Wat Arun images. Moreover, the two huge statues, the Yakshas, are beautifully decorated and give access to the ordination hall of the monks. We would recommend to go there early in the morning and you will have this scenic area to yourself.
The Main Temple
It is considered as the holiest part of Wat Arun. Especially the beautiful corridors with the Buddha statues made us fall in love with this stunning temple complex. Moreover, it is considered to be one of the most instagrammable places in Bangkok! Another highlight of the temple is the marble-clad courtyard. Where you can find numerous Chinese stone sculptures show lions, dragons, warriors and other mystical figures.
Tower Phra Prang
Wat Arun is famous for its beautiful landmark of 70-meter-high temple tower ‘Phra Prang’. A stupa-like pagoda. Even from afar you can see it shining brightly in the midday sun. This white temple is decorated with beautiful mosaics of porcelain and shells, which make up thousands of floral patterns. Steep stairs lead up to the temples and it’s hard to believe that this dizzying ascent was once allowed to be climbed by visitors. Today, you can still visit the Phra Prang but climbing the temple is forbidden.
Sunset at Wat Arun
A must-see experience which you can hardly experience anything more magical than this temple, the Wat Arun at sunset. Opposite, on the other side of the river, you will find several rooftop bars from where you can admire the best view of the temple. Wat Arun is really amazing to see at night when the temple is brightly illuminated.
What makes this temple so exceptional? Its design represents Mount Meru, Buddhist cosmology’s centre of the world, which is located in a transcendent realm of perfection. Architectural details further reinforce this concept with carefully placed guardian gods and symbols found throughout. The highlight has to be the main ‘prang’ (Khmer-style tower) and its four minor towers. These remain the highest in Thailand, decorated with beautiful porcelain and ceramic mosaics. Their design symbolizes the earthly representation of heaven. You can even find large Yak (Thai mythical giants) guarding the temple entrances. It’s said that these two are rivals of the two Yak found guarding the Grand Palace!
Photography lovers searching for the perfect snap will be in heaven here. You can spend at least an hour exploring the temple grounds. The decorations make for a striking backdrop, with many special corners waiting to be discovered. Fun fact: While the name means “Temple of Dawn”, sunset is another ideal time to take pictures – most popularly directly across from the temple to get that classic shot.
Wat Arun is only around a 20 minutes drive from ibis Styles Bangkok Khaosan Viengtai. You can hop on a taxi cab and cross over to the Thonburi side of town. However, the most picturesque and charming way would be to go by boat!
Some more official details to keep in mind:
If you’re hungry for more culture, Wat Arun is directly opposite from Wat Pho, so you can visit that later too when you cross back over the river.
Be the best kind of visitor and adhere to the Wat Arun’s dress code. Show respect for the sacred space by dressing modestly. This means covering bare shoulders and no deep necklines for women. Bottoms, whether skirts or pants must be knee-length or longer. This is the same for men, shirts with sleeves and long pants are key! You also might need to leave your shoes at designated spots if you venture in to certain areas.
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