Temple of the Dawn - Wat Arun, Bangkok
Wat Arun was my personal favorite in Bangkok. Not only is it unique, but it is fun to climb the many steep steps to the top of the temple which allows a great view over Bangkok. The Wat is decorated with old China (plates and etc) which was used to balance weight in trade boats that came from China to Thailand. Instead of throwing away all the china, the Thai's used it to decorate this temple. Really the design is quite genius. You have to cross the river on a ferry to get there, just ask around or follow your travel guide. It can all get a bit confusing but is worth the effort!
WAT ARUN (Temple of the Dawn), is situated on the west (Thonburi) bank of the Chao Phraya River (opposite Tha Thien Pier). Is one of the best known landmarks and one of the most published images of Bangkok.
The best views and photos of Wat Arun are in the evening with the sun setting behind it. There are some restaurants on the opposite side of the river that are good for watching this, though you'd be lucky to see the image of Wat Arun that's on all the postcards - that of the red sky sunset with the sun setting directly behind the temple. Sunset is around 6pm - 7pm.
Also known as the Temple of Dawn, this is Bangkoks most famous and recognizable monument. Built by Rama I in the late 18th century in the Khmer style, it looms 256 feet high above the river. The central prang is surrounded by 4 smaller ones. Throughout the complex are numerous guardian statues from China. Chinese influence can also be seen in the usage of porcelin. Demons hold up the prang making for a fascination fusion of cultures. Additionaly, one can see Hindu images showing the complex fusion of Buddhism and Hinduism in 18th Century Thailand.
Across the river from Wat Pho on the Thonburi side, this is a distinctive single spike of white intricately inlaid with broken porcelain. At 88 meters it was also the tallest structure in Bangkok until the advent of the modern skyscraper.
Although not as grand and certainly not as popular as Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Arun stands out as my favorite of all Bangkok temples. Reasons:
1) The creativity and ingenuity in creating this lovely temple by recycling broken ceramics from Chinese merchant ships is simply fascinating. Look closely at the intricate temple ornaments, and these are mainly made of porcelain pieces - yes cups, saucers and plates.
2) Designed along Cambodian-Khmer lines, it stands out as one of the tallest religious structures in the country soaring to 104 meters. Coupled with its fantastic riverside location, it offers great vantage point to view Bangkok skyline and Chao Phraya river. Climbing the temple is fun, too, although you need to watch your steps very carefully.
3) Fully lit at night, Wat Arun is a sight to behold, especially from the restaurant across the river on Tha Tien pier with your favorite Singha (local beer) and spicy Thai food. Best time to visit is late afternoon before closing, and then grab a seat at the restaurant across the river to watch the sunset and soak in that wonderful, easygoing vibe. More night pictures of Wat Arun here.
After visiting the Wat Pho, i took a boat a cross the Chao Phraya River, i paid 4 bath for the boat and then 20 bath as the entrance fee for the temple. The original temple is from the Ayuthaya time, a new central tower or Prang was added in the 19th century by Rama II. This prang is covered with thousands of bits of chinese porcelain and ceramic tiles, and represents Mount Meru or the Home of Gods. The four smaller towers represent the Four Winds. There are great views of the city from the top of the Prang.
You can only climb to the first level of the main Prang, the second and third level is closed, but thats enough to see the amazing colors and shapes of the bits of porcelain and ceramic tiles that cover the Prang.
Wat Arunratchawararam Ratchaworamahavihara (Wat Arun for short or Temple of Dawn for us Farang) started life as Wat Makok or Olive Temple. King Rama II changed the name to Wat Arunratchatharam and then King Rama IV changed it to Wat Arunratchawararam.
For a very short while the wat held the emerald buddah.
The wat is definitely worth a look... even if it is just from the other side of the river (from where it looks great). It is very intricately designed & looks good from close or afar. The mythical guardians are fantstic.
I visited Wat Arun during a visit to Bangkok in September 2007.
Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn) is located on the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya river to Wat Pho and the Grand Palace. It can easily be reached, as I did, by catching the cross river ferry from Tha Tien pier (next to Wat Pho); a 2 minute crossing that costs a mere 3 Bahts.
Entry to Wat Pho costs 50 Bahts (approx. 0.80 GBP) and visitors must be respectfully dressed. I wore a pair of long trousers and a t-shirt that covered my shoulders.
The main attraction of this temple over the other temples in Bangkok, in my opinion, is that you can climb the steep staircase to the temple’s upper terrace for breathtaking views of the Chao Phraya river and the city skyline. The main photo on my Bangkok introduction page was taken from the upper terrace of Wat Arun. The climb is a steep one, and be warned that in long trousers on a hot and humid day, it is a sweaty climb to the top!
The total height of Wat Arun’s central praang is 82 metres, but the upper terrace is at perhaps only half that height.
Wat Arun is decorated with colourful porcelain tiles and features small characters who appear to be holding the temple up. As I was climbing up the stairs, these characters looked like little devils to me, but my guidebook describes them as being half human, half bird and named “Kinnari”.
As well as the main temple there is also a chapel, the entrance of which is guarded by two giants. The perimeter of the chapel features dozens of golden Buddha icons, and I witnessed an orange robed monk meditating inside.
You can find stalls selling postcards, souvenirs and food and drink by the exit.
Wat Arun which is also called Temple of Dawn lies near the riverbank. What most people do and probably you would also prefer is to visit this temple on the same day you visit Grand Palace and Wat Pho. As they are all located close to each other with the river seperating Wat Arun from the other two, I left this temple to the last. The entrance fee is 20 Baht per person. The steps of the main temple is very steep, but if you go upto the top, you will certainly enjoy the panaromic view.
At each corner of the central monument are four minor prangs approximately 25 metres high. Elaborately ornate with porcelain inlay, niches are to be found approximately half way up where statues of Nayu, the god of wind, on horseback are to be found.
67 metres high, the central monument of Wat Arun symbolises Hindu-Buddhist cosmology, with the prang representing the mythical Mount Meru. It's divided into three symbolic levels - the Devaphum (top), Tavatimsa Heaven (middle) and the Traiphum (base). Ornate is an understatement, with the ceramic facade and the many statues, floral insignia and carvings.
The Temple of Dawn is on the Thon Buri side of Mae Nam Chao Phraya river and provides a wonderful river view when across the Chao Praya.
Following the sacking of the capital, Ayutthaya, at the end of the 18th century, King Taksin enlarged the temple that stood of the site to house the Emerald Buddha (now in the Grand Palace complex). Rama I and II enlarged the temple to the current size in the the early 19th century, with Rama IV adding the porcelain ornamentation in the 1880s.
20 baht entrance, 2 baht for the ferry across the river (each way). Avoid the stalls that have set up shop around the temple - especially the refreshment stalls which charge twice as much money as anywhere else I encountered.
You have to visit at least one temple when you visit Bangkok, so why not the most visited temple? Wat Arun or "The temple of Dawn" is a beauty with its exterior structure decorated with seashells and porcelain.
If you're already on the well-tended ground, why not just pay the 30 Baht entrance fee to have a look at the temple.
Wat Arun is one of the top temple attractions in Bangkok and sits along the Chao Praya River. I did not go in, but took this picture during a boat ride.
The main Khmer-style tower is some 80-90m high and it is surround by four smaller towers. Construction was started by King Rama II (1809-1824) and completed by King Rama III (1824-1851). When Thonburi was the temporary capital of Thailand, the Emerald Buddha was kept here at Wat Arun.
Open every day from 8.30am to 5.30pm, and entrance to the Wat is 20B.