Wat Arun, or better known as the Temple of Dawn, is named after the Indian God of dawn, Aruna, and belongs to Bangkok’s most famous and sacred landmarks.
It consists of a massive phra prang (Khmer-style tower) and is surrounded by four smaller ones on each corner of the tower. The most attractive structure is the approximately 82 meter high central prang which symbolizes the legendary Mount Meru, the terrestrial representation of the thirty-three heavens.
It is beautifully decorated with seashells and mosaic of multi-color Chinese porcelain which had previously been used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China.
Around its base are various figures of ancient Chinese soldiers and animals, and over the second terrace are four statues of the Hindu god Indra riding on Erawan, a mythological three-headed elephant. Each of the four outer prangs hold statues of the wind god Phra Phai to whom they are dedicated to.
Despite the name of Temple of Dawn, the best views and photos is at sunset, when the sun is glowing red behind the massive temple; or at night when dozens of lights illuminate the outline of the prang. There are some restaurants on the opposite bank of the river which grant an excellent view of Wat Arun.
Sunset in Bangkok is around 6pm – 7pm all year round.
Also a worth look is the interior of the temple hall next to the prangs. The main Niramitr Buddha image is believed to be designed by King Rama II himself.
The front entrance of the Ordination Hall has a roof with a central spire, decorated in colored ceramic and stuccowork. There are 2 giant demons – or temple guardian figures – from the epic Ramayana named Sahassateja (white figure) and Tasakanth (green figure).
History of Wat Arun
The striking Temple of Dawn was built in the 17th century in the days of Thailand’s ancient capital of Ayutthaya and originally known as Wat Makok (The Olive Temple). In the ensuing era when Thonburi was capital, King Taksin changed the name to Wat Chaeng.
During the Thonburi period, the Wat was regarded as the royal temple and housed the revered Emerald Buddha for 4 years. It was later moved to Wat Phra Kaew in 1785 after the new capital ‘Rattanakosin’ was established. The later King Rama II changed the name to Wat Arunratchatharam. He restored the temple and enlarged the central prang. The work was ultimately finished by King Rama III.
But it was King Rama IV who gave the temple its present name of Wat Arunratchawararam.
Opening Time: 8.30am – 5.30pm
Entrance Fee: 30 Baht per person
Phone Number: 02-891-2185
How to get to Wat Arun
Wat Arun is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in Thonburi. To get there, take the BTS Sky train (Silom line) to Saphan Taksin station and descend via exit 1 to Tha Sathon pier where you can take the Chao Phraya Express boat. When you reach Tha Tien pier, get off and take the cross-river boat service which takes to Wat Arun on the other side.