Wat Arun from Across the River

Guide to Visiting Wat Arun, Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand’s vibrant capital, is renowned for its bustling streets, lively markets, and rich cultural heritage. Among its many historical landmarks, Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, stands out as a must-visit destination. Wat Arun, one of Bangkok’s most iconic temples, is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. It is famous for its stunning architecture and historical significance.

Wat Arun
Wat Arun


Wat Arun is situated in the Bangkok Yai district on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River. Its full name is Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan. The temple’s riverside location makes it easily accessible by boat, offering visitors a picturesque approach to this magnificent structure. Wat Arun is directly opposite Wat Pho, another famous temple on the river’s east bank.

How to Get There

Wat Arun is easily accessible by various modes of transportation:

By Boat

Getting to Wat Arun is a breeze, thanks to its convenient location on the Chao Phraya River. One of the most scenic ways to reach the temple is by boat. Take a river ferry from the Tha Tien Pier near Wat Pho, and you’ll be crossing the river to the Wat Arun Pier in no time. This stress-free journey offers stunning views of both temples and the river, setting the perfect tone for your visit.

By Taxi or Tuk-Tuk

Taxis and tuk-tuks are a great way to visit for those who prefer to stay on land. Tell the driver you want to visit Wat Arun; they will navigate the city’s streets to get you there.

By Public Transport

Bangkok’s extensive public transport network includes buses and the BTS Skytrain. Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin Station, then transfer to a Chao Phraya Express Boat to reach Wat Arun.

Planning a trip to Bangkok? Here is a list of the 10 Must Visit Places in Bangkok, including Wat Arun.

Tips for Visitors

  • Opening Hours: 8.00 am to 6.00 pm.
  • Entrance fee: 100 baht at the time of writing. Check the Tourism Thailand website for the current entrance fee.
  • Best Time to Visit: The temple is less crowded early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Visiting at these times also means you can avoid the midday heat.
  • Stay Hydrated: Bangkok can get very hot, so bring your own water to stay hydrated during your visit.
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: A lot of walking is involved, and the steps of the central prang are steep, so wear comfortable footwear.
  • Respect the Monks: If you encounter monks, be respectful.
  • Plan for the Sun: Wear a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time exploring the temple grounds.
  • Take a Sarong: Have a sarong just in case you need to cover your shoulders or knees.
  • Photography: Photography is generally allowed at Wat Arun, but it’s important to be respectful, especially inside the ordination hall where people pray. Avoid using flash photography as it can be disruptive.

Dress Code

As Wat Arun is a religious site, visitors are expected to dress modestly and respectfully. Here are some guidelines:

  • Men: Wear long pants and a shirt with sleeves. Avoid tank tops or sleeveless shirts.
  • Women: Wear a long skirt or pants and a shirt with sleeves. Shoulders should be covered. Avoid tight or revealing clothing.

If you arrive in attire that does not meet these requirements, sarongs can usually be rented at the entrance for a small fee.

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What's on the Site?

Wat Arun is a sprawling complex with several notable structures and features, including:

Central Prang

Wat Arun’s most striking feature is the central prang (Khmer-style tower). This tower is approximately 70 meters tall and decorated with intricate floral patterns made from colourful Chinese porcelain and seashells. Visitors can climb steep steps to reach higher levels of the prang, which offers breathtaking views of the Chao Phraya River and the surrounding city.

Smaller Prangs

Four smaller prangs, each standing at the corners of the temple grounds, surround the central prang. These are adorned with detailed ceramic decorations representing the wind god, Phra Phai.

Ordination Hall (Ubosot)

The ordination hall is home to a golden Buddha statue and is a place where important religious ceremonies are conducted. The hall’s walls are decorated with beautiful murals depicting scenes from Buddhist mythology.

Giant Statues

At the entrance of the ordination hall, two impressive statues of mythical giants (Yaksha) guard the temple. These vibrant statues add to the temple’s majestic ambience.

Gardens and Courtyards

Wat Arun’s grounds include well-maintained gardens and courtyards, providing a peaceful atmosphere for visitors to relax and reflect.

Wat Arun Temple
Wat Arun Statue


Wat Arun has a deep-rooted history that stretches back to the Ayutthaya period. It is believed to have been established in the 17th century under Wat Makok. After the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767, King Taksin declared Thonburi the new capital. He renamed the temple Wat Chaeng, making it the royal chapel. The temple once housed the Emerald Buddha, which was later moved to Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace.

The current structure of Wat Arun, particularly the central prang, was significantly expanded and renovated during King Rama II’s reign. King Rama III completed it in the early 19th century. The temple’s name was then changed to Wat Arun Ratchawararam, reflecting its royal significance.

Wat Arun Mosaics


Wat Arun’s architecture blends Khmer and Thai styles, featuring ornate and intricate designs. The central prang is the highlight, decorated with millions of pieces of Chinese porcelain, giving it a distinctive and glittering appearance. The porcelain pieces are arranged in floral and geometric patterns, creating a mesmerizing mosaic effect.

The prang is supported by statues of mythical beings, such as demons and monkeys, which is characteristic of Thai temple architecture. The four smaller prangs surrounding the central tower are similarly decorated, though less grand in scale.

The ordination hall’s architecture is more traditional Thai, with a multi-tiered roof and intricately carved wooden doors. The interior walls are covered with murals depicting scenes from the Ramakien, Thailand’s version of the Ramayana.

Wat Arun Statue Pig
Wat Arun Statue Monkey

Current Use

Today, Wat Arun is a tourist attraction and an active Buddhist temple where monks live and worship. It hosts a variety of religious ceremonies and festivals throughout the year, including the Kathina (robe offering ceremony) and Visakha Bucha Day (commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha). This blend of spirituality and cultural vibrancy makes Wat Arun a truly unique destination.


With its stunning architecture, rich history, and serene atmosphere, Wat Arun is a jewel in Bangkok’s crown. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or simply looking for a tranquil spot to appreciate the beauty of Thai culture, Wat Arun has something to offer. Its central prang, decorated with colourful porcelain, is a testament to Thailand’s artistic and cultural heritage. Accessible by boat, taxi, or public transport, this temple is a must-visit for anyone travelling to Bangkok. Remember to dress respectfully, take your time to explore the temple grounds, and soak in the breathtaking views from the central prang. Wat Arun truly is a magnificent embodiment of the Temple of Dawn.

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