Easily one of Bangkok’s most visually striking landmarks, the Temple of the Dawn (Wat Arun) towers over the Chao Phraya River. Its colorfully decorated spires are the star features—the temple’s central prang stands 260 feet (79 meters) tall and is intricately decorated with tiny pieces of colored glass and Chinese porcelain.
Named for the Hindu god Aruna who is said to emulate the rising sun, this Buddhist temple was built in the era of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, an ancient Siamese city-state. It’s now one of Thailand’s top landmarks, attracting visitors who come to wander the complex and its interior and those who clamber up the steep steps to enjoy unparalleled vistas of Bangkok’s skyline and the winding Chao Phraya River.
With its location on the river’s western bank, Wat Arun is best enjoyed from a canal cruise. Opt for a half-day longtail boat tour to see the temple along with top Bangkok attractions such as Chinatown, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), the Grand Palace, and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho). To see Temple of the Dawn lit up with the sunset’s golden glow, choose a dinner cruise; to view the temple from land, join a bike or tuk-tuk tour of the city.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wat Arun is an important place of worship, so be sure to dress appropriately for your visit. Modest clothing (covered shoulders and long pants or a skirt) is a must. Cover-ups can be rented near the temple’s entrance.
- Entering the complex requires a small fee.
- Remember to bring sun protection and comfortable shoes for scaling the steps.
- Be prepared to wait your turn to climb the central spire (prang) and make way for visitors heading back down. The experience is not well suited for those scared of heights or visitors with limited mobility.
How to Get There
The Temple of Dawn is located on the Chao Phraya River’s west bank, across from the Grand Palace. The easiest way to reach the temple is by water taxi from Tha Tien Pier, near Wat Pho. By road from the city center, head to the west side of the Chao Phraya River by way of the Phra Pin-klao Bridge, then follow the waterway south on Arum Amarin Road.
When to Get There
It’s possible to see the temple at dawn, but the central prang and wider temple complex typically opens at 8:30am. Opt for a sunrise visit to explore the exterior and beat the crowds (and the heat).
Exploring the Temple’s Interior Spaces
While the temple’s intricate exterior details are an obvious draw, its interior is also full of wonder. Don’t miss the incense-scented Ordination Hall and its prominently seated golden Buddha, the towering mosaic-lined chambers of the secluded Prayer Hall, or the human-sized Buddha’s footprint.