ThailandBangkok $$$$$ All Year Mostly Outdoor
Religious

Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

An elegant Buddhist temple located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Wat Arun's appearance is different to other religious sites in Bangkok, having been inspired by the temples of the ancient kingdom Ayutthaya, now in ruins. Wat Arun's iconic 70-metre-high spire may therefore be the most authentic example of Khmer-style architecture in Bangkok.

Officially named Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan, the majestic temple is not clad in gold like the Grand Palace, but instead features colorful pieces of glass and porcelain depicting characters from Thailand's version of the legend of Ramayana. Visitors who brave the spire's incredibly steep steps are rewarded with views over the winding river and historic old city.

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Price

฿50 (USD$1.60)

Time Spent

30-120minutes

Fitness level: Some effort

Hours

8:30am-5:30pm7 days

Look Around

The Spire - an 82m-high Khmer-style tower constructed in the early 1800sThe Spire - an 82m-high Khmer-style tower constructed in the early 1800s
bangkok_wat-arun-03744.jpg
Steps up the side of The SpireSteps up the side of The Spire
Walking around the central spire at the mid levelWalking around the central spire at the mid level
Around Wat Arun
Chinese statueChinese statue
Carved character decorated with tiny pieces of colored glass and Chinese porcelainCarved character decorated with tiny pieces of colored glass and Chinese porcelain
Layers of carvings recount characters from the folklore story of RamayanaLayers of carvings recount characters from the folklore story of Ramayana
The Spire flanked by Buddhist templesThe Spire flanked by Buddhist temples
Carvings of Wat Arun
Ordination Hall exterior and surrounding gardensOrdination Hall exterior and surrounding gardens
Gold Buddha statues near entranceGold Buddha statues near entrance
A monk gives visitors a blessing inside the Ordination HallA monk gives visitors a blessing inside the Ordination Hall
Intricate mural paintings inside the Ordination Hall tell the story of Buddha's lifeIntricate mural paintings inside the Ordination Hall tell the story of Buddha's life
Niramitr Buddha image in Ordination Hall, believed to be designed by King Rama IINiramitr Buddha image in Ordination Hall, believed to be designed by King Rama II
Inside Ordination Hall

Who Will Like Wat Arun

Culture Buff

Visit this elegant and religiously important Buddhist temple to see giants, monkeys, men, and angels from the legend of Ramayana in the grand spire. Or head to the Ordination Hall to pray by the golden Buddha relic.

Bucketlist Bandit

Climb the iconic spire's steep steps and pose for a photo amongst the intricate rooftops.

Photography Whiz

Take close ups of the temple's detailed spire, or capture an iconic city landscape from the spire's peak. Alternatively, set your tripod up near the Tha Tien Pier on the opposite side of the river around sunset or blue hour for a dreamy shot of the waterfront temple.

Insider Tips For Wat Arun

Shoe rack in front of temple entranceShoe rack in front of temple entrance
Entry price signEntry price sign
Ticket booth at western entranceTicket booth at western entrance
Entry ticketEntry ticket
  • The easiest way to climb down the spire's steep steps is by going diagonally (top left to bottom right or top right to bottom left).
  • Read up on the Legend of Ramayana before your visit to understand the story depicted in the temple's spire.
  • Ferries across the river to access Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and the rest of the old city cost ฿6 (USD$0.19) per person.
  • Visit early in the morning to see the rising sun glisten on the spire's intricate mosaic (and avoid the crowds).

Video

Where Is It

158 Thanon Wang Doem, Wat Arun, Bangkok Yai, Bangkok 10600, Thailand

Open map...

How To Get There

Boat (Chao Phraya Express BoatWat Arun Pier)

Express boat stops at main piers along the Chao Phraya River, including Wat Arun Pier.

Walking directions from boat...

Ferry

Take a ferry to cross the river from Tha Tien to Wat Arun Pier.

Walking directions from ferry...

Rideshare

Grab drivers drop off at western entrance (opposite side of the river).

Tuk-tuk

Tuk-Tuk drivers drop off at western entrance (opposite side of the river). Negotiate a reasonable flat fee before getting in.

Crossing the Chao Phraya River from the Tha Tian ferry terminal in the old cityCrossing the Chao Phraya River from the Tha Tian ferry terminal in the old city
Pier at Wat ArunPier at Wat Arun
Accessing Wat Arun via ferry on the Chao Phraya River

What To Bring

Do:
  • Modest clothing or sarong to cover knees and shoulders.
  • Comfortable shoes easy to take on and off. Shoes must be removed before entering the Ordination Hall.
  • Cash for entry fee.
Don't:
  • Food and drink other than water.

Tech & Photography

Wifi

Public wifi access: None

Photography

Photography allowed: Yes

Tripod allowed: Not encouraged

Selfie sticks allowed: Yes

Best time to shoot: Sunrise & Sunset

Tips: Due to the spire's vast size, it's easier to get a frame including the surrounding buildings from further away - either near the western entrance or from the gardens at the northeast corner of the complex. The ideal spot is from the east bank of the river at sunset. Use this map, to navigate the narrow, covered walkways and look for a modest tin-sheet-covered structure (that resembles a kitchen) with wooden flooring and a hand-drawn sign saying "taking photo 100B per person". After paying the fee, use a zoom lens (at least 70mm) and tripod. Although be aware the passing boats can cause the wooden dock to move, so keep long exposures less than 1 second to avoid motion blur.

Drones

Drones allowed: Yes (subject to national/regional rules)

Bags

Backpacks allowed: Yes

Secured bag lockers available: No

Food & Drink

The closest cluster of restaurants are located on the opposite bank of the river to Wat Arun. Catch the ferry across the river to choose from dozens of Thai restaurants.

Backstory

The site of Wat Arun has been home to a Buddhist temple since the time of the Ayutthaya kingdom. The temple was renovated and renamed Wat Chaeng (Temple of Dawn) by King Taksin when he fled the destruction Ayutthaya in 1767 and established a new capital in Thonburi. It is believed he arrived, as dawn was breaking, at the site of the temple, inspiring its original name.

Thailand's most sacred Buddhist relic, the Emerald Buddha, was moved from Ayutthaya to Wat Arun, before moving to its current home in Wat Phra Kaew at Grand Palace in 1785. Wat Arun's spire was raised to 70-meters high as part of restoration by Kings Rama II and Rama III, then several more renovations were conducted during the reign of King Rama V. More recently, works to repair broken tiles and plaster were conducted between 2013 and 2017, bringing the temple to its grand appearance of today.

The main spire (prang) of Wat Arun represents Mount Meru, the centre of the universe. The architectural style was borrowed from the neighbouring Burmese empire.

Etiquette

Do:
  • Dress appropriately with covered shoulders and knees.
  • Obey signage and temple rules including removing shoes before entering the Ordination Hall.
  • Take your time going down the spire's steep steps to ensure your safety.
  • Leave room for other visitors to safely move around you as some areas can be tight.
  • Queue patiently for the ferry to cross the river. Wait for the next ferry if the boat is full.
Don't:
  • Point your feet towards the golden Buddha statue.
  • Touch monks or address them if you are female.

Scorecard

Best Parts:
  • Religious significance of the temple and depiction of the Ramayana Epic.
  • View of the river and old city from the spire's peak.
  • Unique design, different to other temples in Bangkok.
  • Low entry fee compared to other temples like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
Could Be Better:
  • Steep steps to climb and descend the spire.
  • Lack of shade to escape the hot sun.
My itinerary Save View

Oh, you're so close

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