Wat Arun in Bangkok: The Temple of Dawn

Last Updated: August 09,2019

Wat Arun, known as the Temple of Dawn, seen from many postcards, magnificently standing tall on the west bank of Chao Phraya River, is considered to be one the most beautiful temples in Bangkok. It is so famous not only because of its location but also the fantastic architecture. The image of the temple is on the 10-baht coin which makes the temple even more of a symbol of Thailand. It should definitely be on everyone's must-see list. Exploring temples are top things to in Thailand


  • Climb up to the top of prang of Wat Arun to see the winding Chao Phraya River and the Grand Palace. 

  • Shoot Wat Arun while sunset on the opposite side of Chao Phraya River. 

  • Take an evening dinner cruise and enjoy the imposing prang beautifully illuminated from the river.

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Wat Arun in Bangkok

When you face the magnificent prang, you may want to climb up to the top to have a look. However, we should remind you here, the steps are quite steep and getting up is as difficult as getting down although there is a railing to balance yourself. As soon as you reach the highest point in the area, you can see the winding Chao Phraya River running through the city as well as the majestic Grand Palace and Wat Pho opposite.

Interesting statuettes and sculptures of the Chinese warriors and different animals are aesthetically placed along the base of this structure and the complex of the temple also hosts shrines, ponds, lovely white buildings and tiny lines. 

When you enter the ordination hall and you can appreciate a golden principal Buddha image which was designed by King Rama II who was very interested in poetry and art. You will also enjoy the comprehensive murals, created during the reign of Rama V, telling the stories on the wall. We highly recommend you devote at least an hour in the temple.   

Although it is called the Temple of Dawn, actually the best time to shoot it is at sunset from opposite side of the river. The pictures will really be amazing. You can choose one of the rooftop cafe on the opposite side before sunset and wait for the stirring moment while having a cup of drink. 

The most relaxed way to enjoy the beauty of Wat Arun is from the Chao Phraya River. We high recommend the evening dinner cruise as you can enjoy the imposing prang beautifully illuminate while enjoying your dinner.  

Though Wat Arun is an extremely famous place for tourists, it is also an important worshipping place for local Buddhists. So you have to dress appropriately or rent one of the cover ups near the entrance when you visit the temple. 

Wat Arun at sunset

Wat Arun: one of the oldest temples and the royal chapel in Bangkok 

Wat Arun is one of the few temples built before Bangkok was established as the capital city. It was envisioned by King Taksin in 1768, who established Thonburi on the west bank of the Chao Phraya river as the new capital after the former capital Ayutthaya was destructed by the Burmese army. It is said King Taksin fought his way out of Ayutthaya and reached this temple just as dawn was breaking. Later, he had the temple renovated and renamed it Wat Chaeng, which means the Temple of the Dawn and became the temple of the royal chapel and the sacred Emerald Buddha. The Thonburi Kingdom came to the end with the death of King Taksin in the year of 1782 then started Kingdom of Rattanakosin on the east side of the Chao Phraya River and Bangkok was set as the capital city. The temple was renovated and renamed again Wat Arun Rajwararam or Wat Arun for short during the reign of King Rama II and the Emerald Buddha was moved to the Wat Phra Kaew on the grounds of the Grand Palace. 

Wat Arun Architecture

Wat Arun is basically an architectural demonstration of the Mount Meru, which is the center of this world according to the Buddhist cosmology. In order to emphasize the temple's allegory, the outlying prang, along with the images of their protector that are facing the four directions are placed. The grand prang also does the same thing. It is over 70 meters high in Khmer style and decorated with millions of small pieces of colorful porcelain from China. 

Although the prangs of Wat Arun are very famous, the other buildings of the temple are impressive as well.

The ubosot or ordination hall  

The principal Buddha image of the temple is housed in the ubosot or ordination hall. The image of the Buddha was designed by King Rama II himself. After he died, his ashes were contained in the base of the image. The beautiful murals on the wall of wall were created during the reign of (Rama V)

Four mondops surrounding the prang

There are four mondops or pavilions surrounding the central grand prang and they enshrine Buddha images which represent for important occurrences in the life of the Buddha: birth, first sermon to five monks in Sarmath, enlightenment and final nirvana.

Cloister & Buddha footprint mondop

Over 100 Buddha images are contained in the cloister of the temple complex. A mondop has a copy of the footprint of the Buddha and lots of large guardian statues quite similar to those in the Grand Palace can be found in the Wat Arun. You will also find some salas (open air pavilions) on the side of the river. 

Architecture at Wat Arun

Opening hours: The daily opening time of the temple is from 08:30 to 17:30.

Dress code

Wat Arun is a dynamically running Thai Buddhist shrine, the administration commands the visitors to dress up in a graceful style. This evidently holds that the men are required to dress up in proper pants along with either the short-sleeved or the long-sleeved shirts, obviously, the clothes like tank tops or sleeveless shirts are not allowed. Similarly, the females must not wear revealing clothes or knee-length skirts.

How to Get to Wat Arun

Boat is the best possible way to get to this place. As a tourist, you can take a Chao Phraya express boat to Tha Tien pier almost at the Grand Palace which is actually the East bank of this river. Once you reach there, you should cross the river via the “Tha Tien express” boat service. Throughout the brief ride, the visitors can experience exceptional sights and can have multiple chances to click wonderful photographs the huge Wat Arun prang.

Appreciating the Wat Arun by taking an evening dinner cruise

Visit Thailand with UME Travel

We have carefully designed some Thailand tours including the sacred and elegant temples to give you some suggestions. Treat them simply as inspirations, because we will follow all your particular interests and tastes to create uniquely itinerary for you. 

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