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Wat Arun

The temple of Dawn on the Chao Phraya river

Prang of Wat Arun Bangkok
The prang of the Wat Arun
Name
Wat Arun, the temple of Dawn
Date
1768
Location
Wat Arun Amarin Road
On the West bank of the Chao Phraya river
Bangkok

One of Bangkok’s most famous landmarks and known from many postcards, the Wat Arun is best known for its massive prang, a tower on the Chao Phra river bank built in Khmer architectural style. The prang with its height of more than 80 meters is the highest in Thailand.

The Wat Arun, commonly known as “the Temple of Dawn”, is one of only six temples of the highest grade of the first class Royal Temples, and therefore one of Thailand’s most revered temples.

One of Bangkok’s oldest temples

It is also one of the few temples that predates the founding of Bangkok and the start of the Rattanakosin era in 1782. It’s prang dominated the skyline around the Chao Phraya river during the early days of Bangkok and today is still one of the most impressive sights on the river.

After the destruction of the former capital Ayutthaya by the Burmese in 1767, King Taksin the Great established Thonburi on the West bank of the Chao Phraya river as the new capital.

The area where the Wat Arun stands, which is almost directly opposite of the Grand Palace on the other side of the river, was chosen as the location for the new capital of the Thonburi Kingdom. The temple that was originally named Wat Jaeng was build on the remains of an older temple named Wat Makok dating back to the Ayutthaya era.

With the death of King Taksin in 1782 came the end of the Thonburi Kingdom and the start of the Rattanakosin Kingdom, that established Bangkok on the other side of the Chao Phraya river as the new capital.

During the reign of King Rama II the temple was renovated and renamed Wat Arun Rajwararam or Wat Arun for short.

The prang of the Wat Arun

The prang was raised to its current height of over 80 meters. The Khmer style tower is decorated with millions of small pieces of colorful Chinese porcelain, which was in those days used as ballast on ships from China.

A steep stairway on the side of the prang leads up to a terrace. You can climb the stairway giving a nice view of the river and surrounding area. Because the stairs are very steep and narrow it is not possible to go all the way up. Around the main prang are four similar smaller prangs.

Buddha images at the Wat Arun Bangkok
Buddha images at Wat Arun

Other structures at the Wat Arun grounds

Although the Wat Arun is known for its impressive prang there are other buildings that are worth investigating.

The ubosot or ordination hall

The ubosot or ordination hall houses the principal Buddha image of the Wat Arun. The image was designed by King Rama II himself, who was very interested in poetry and art, and who ruled from 1809 until 1824.

The base of the image in subduing Mara mudra contains the ashes of the King. The walls contain beautiful murals created during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V).

Four mondops surrounding the prang

Around the central prang are four mondops or pavilions enshrining Buddha images representing four important occurrences in the life of the Buddha, namely birth, first sermon in Sarnath to five monks, enlightenment and passing into final nirvana.

Cloister & Buddha footprint mondop

The cloister of the temple complex contains more than 100 Buddha images.

A mondop houses a copy of the Buddha’s footprint. A number of very large guardian statues in the Wat Arun are very similar to those in the Grand Palace. On the river side you will find a number of salas (open air pavilions).

How to get to the Wat Arun

The Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn is located on Wat Arun Amarin Road on the West bank of the Chao Phraya river, opposite the Wat Pho temple and the Grand Palace.

The best way to get there is by boat. Take a Chao Phraya express boat to Tha Tien pier at the Grand Palace on the East bank of the river. From there, cross the river with the Tha Tien express boat. During the short ride you will have excellent views and photo opportunities of the huge Wat Arun prang.
Get there by Chao Phraya river boat.

Admission & opening hours

The Wat Arun opens daily from 8 am until 5:30 pm. Admission is 50 Thai Baht per person.

Visit Wat Arun

“Rattanakosin, Bangkok’s oldest temples”

Full day private tour including guide, transfers, entrance fees and lunch

Starting at per person Baht
 710