Fresh from my tour around Wat Pho where the Reclining Buddha resides, I took a 2 minute walk to the docks of Tha Tien market to cross Chao Phraya River and visit the majestic Temple of Dawn or Wat Arun. Its main feature is the Khmer style tower which can be seen from afar. Too bad I wasn’t able to see how sunlight would’ve hit the pearly surface of the spire during my visit because of the grey skies.
The scorching summer heat was immediately replaced by cloudy weather. Dreading the anticipated rain, I hurriedly walked towards the water taxi terminal near Wat Pho and paid 4 Baht to cross the river bound to Wat Arun.
It was a quick ride from the other side. It was also a convenient trip because the drop off point was exactly in front of the temple complex. I went to the ticketing area and paid 50 Baht for the admission fee.
The area was not as big as that of the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, and it was the less touristy temple compared to the first two. What I have noticed was the scaffolding around the spire. It was quite a disappointment to find out that visitors were not allowed to climb to the top of the tower because it was under maintenance. It sucks but at least there’s one more reason for me to return to Bangkok. And I know that this is one of the countries that I will always be excited to go back to.
The 79 meter tall spire is one of the iconic landmarks in Bangkok. It is oftentimes seen in travel websites, post cards, and tourism ads because of its porcelain covered surface and steep steps which offers stunning views of Chao Phraya river and the Bangkok skyline. In spite the cloudy skies and scaffolds, its central prang still stood marvelously among the smaller ones around it.
Wat Arun’s designs are mostly Hindu, Khmer, and Chinese in origin. From the spears at the top depicting Shiva’s trident, to the Chinese soldier guards at the base of the towers. On each corner are four smaller towers covered in seashells and porcelain. These materials were once used as ballast for boats that came from China to Thailand.
Beyond the towers
There are several Chinese statues of soldiers and animals within and around the temple complex. This is because Wat Arun was also known as Wat Chaeng or Zheng Temple after the ruler Zheng Xin or king Taksin the Great who happened to be part Chinese.
There are also several Buddha statues aligned along the walls of the vicinity. Whats fascinating is that these are actually burial sites with photos of the departed. I didn’t take photos of the dead as a sign of respect.
The Ordination Hall
Right beside the temple complex is the ordination hall. In need of a quick pause, I took my shoes off and sat inside to recuperate while staring at every detail of the shrine. The golden Buddha had two servant statues in front. I then shifted my attention to the intricate decorations of chandeliers, murals, and flower arrangements that composed of the whole shrine. It was a very peaceful experience.
It also happened that there was a monk offering blessings to visitors. People knelt in front of him while he prayed. And then the monk will tie a string to the person’s wrist for good fortune and protection.
Wat Arun’s appearance is quite different compared to other temples in Bangkok. It is not just the height of the spire but also the deep influence of different cultures that made the unique design stand out.
I could have climbed to the top of the Khmer style prang if not for the undergoing maintenance. But even if I wasn’t able to see Bangkok’s amazing skyline, it doesn’t change the fact that Wat Arun is one of the most breathtaking structures built within Bangkok, whether seen from afar or up close.
Entrance fee: 50 Baht
Opening hours: 08:00-17:00
Other things to do:
- Stroll along the small park in front of Wat Arun by the river.
- Buy some souvenir items in the docking area.
- Look for different kinds of amulets inside the complex for the curious and superstitious.
- Enjoy some street foods before or after boarding a water taxi in Tha Tien pier.
As always when it comes to visiting temples, a strict dress code policy applies:
- For men: Long pants and sleeved shirts are to be worn. No sleeveless or tank tops allowed.
- If you’re wearing sandals, you should wear socks as well.
- For women: See-through clothes and off-shoulder dresses are prohibited.
- Short shorts are also not allowed.
How to get there:
- From Wat Pho Temple, walk to Tha Tien Market and head to Pier no. 8. Boat ride to the riverbanks of Wat Arun is 4 Baht.
Where to stay:
I booked a hotel reservation at the Royal Tha Tien Village. It’s just 5 to 10 minutes away from the Grand Palace and Wat Pho and is an ideal place to stay when exploring Bangkok. Please contact them or visit www.agoda.com for some good deals: