Wat Arun, located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in Thonburi, is one of Bangkok’s most unique attractions.
With its central tower both great fun to climb and giving terrific cityscapes from the top.
The Temple of Dawn, as it also known, should be on your list of places to see in the capital.
There has been a Buddhist temple of some description at this site since the Ayutthaya Period, with the famous Emerald Buddha, long since moved across the river to Wat Phra Kaew, once residing here. King Taksin used Wat Arun as his Royal Temple in the 1760’s before Rama II and Rama III then carried out extensive work on it during the first half of the 19th century, in particular, adding the distinctive towers.
Wat Arun consists of 4 small prangs (Khmer style towers) which surround a central 80m high prang. All of the towers, supported by rather tired looking old monkeys and demons, are encrusted with thousands of tiny pieces of porcelain, giving a unique glimmering effect. Wat Arun is currently being renovated and it’s fascinating to watch the local artisans literally breaking up standard shop bought plates and bowls of multiple hues to use for the mosaics.
The central prang has vey narrow, very steep staircases enabling you to climb up the three different levels, which represent according to Buddhist mythology, existence, desire and heaven. The views of Bangkok from the highest level are superb.
Surrounding the towers, there are various other pagodas and salas in neat little gardens by the river as well as a coffee shop. You can also wander out the back of Wat Arun into the nearby Thonburi streets, where you will find some great local cafes and restaurants.
Wat Arun is 50bt to visit, takes about an hour all told, with early mornings the best time if you want to beat the crowds.
Directions to Wat Arun
To reach Wat Arun, head for Tha Thien Pier and take the cross-river ferry for 3bt. Tha Thien Pier is one of the main stops on the river taxis route. Use the orange flag boat at 15bt as the cheapest option. You can pick it up from Pra Athit (Khao San Road) or Sathorn (Saphan Thaksin BTS sky train stop).
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