Wat Arun Travel Guide: Tips for Exploring Bangkok’s Iconic Temple
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is a Buddhist temple located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand. It is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and a must-visit for anyone traveling to Bangkok. The temple is named after the Hindu god Aruna, who is often depicted as the charioteer of the sun.
Wat Arun is famous for its stunning architecture, intricate designs, and beautiful sculptures. The temple’s central tower, known as prang, stands over 80 meters tall and is decorated with colorful glass and Chinese porcelain. Visitors can climb up the steep steps of the prang to enjoy breathtaking views of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River.
If you’re planning a visit to Wat Arun, it’s important to know what to expect. This travel guide will provide you with all the information you need to make the most of your visit, including tips on how to get there, what to wear, and what to see. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or just looking for a peaceful place to escape the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, Wat Arun is a must-visit destination.
History of Wat Arun
Wat Arun, a temple steeped in history and culture, is believed to have been built during the early Ayutthaya period in the 17th century. Although its original name was Wat Makok, after the village it was built in, it was renamed to Wat Arunratchatharam by King Taksin after he relocated the capital to Thonburi in 1768.
King Taksin added tall prangs (Khmer-style towers) to represent Mount Meru, the center of the universe in Buddhist cosmology, and the central prang was further constructed and completed during the reign of King Rama II in the early 19th century. This central prang stands 82 meters tall and is adorned with colorful Chinese porcelain and seashells, making it an eye-catching sight.
Wat Arun has been recognized as a Royal Temple since the mid-19th century and has since become a symbol of the city of Bangkok, undergoing several renovations and restorations to maintain its beauty and historical significance.
The origins of Wat Arun date back to the Ayutthaya period, when a small temple called Wat Makok was built on the site. Over time, the temple fell into disrepair and was eventually abandoned.
In the late 1700s, King Taksin of Thailand ordered the temple’s restoration and renamed it Wat Chaeng, or the Temple of Dawn. The temple was dedicated to the Hindu god Aruna, who is often depicted as riding a chariot pulled by seven horses.
Over the years, Wat Arun has undergone several architectural changes. The most notable feature of the temple is its central prang, or tower, surrounded by four smaller prangs. The prangs are adorned with colorful glass and Chinese porcelain, which sparkle in the sunlight.
The original prang was built during the reign of King Rama II in the early 19th century. It was later expanded and renovated by King Rama III, who added the four smaller prangs and the intricate floral designs that cover the temple’s exterior.
In the late 20th century, the temple underwent a major restoration project, which included installing new mosaics and replacing damaged porcelain and glass. Today, Wat Arun remains one of the most iconic landmarks in Bangkok and a symbol of Thailand’s rich cultural heritage.
Interesting Facts about Wat Arun
Wat Arun is not only a beautiful temple but also a place with a rich history. Here are some interesting facts about Wat Arun that visitors might find fascinating:
- The temple’s name “Wat Arun” means “Temple of Dawn” and is named after the Hindu God Aruna, who is believed to be the God of Dawn.
- The temple was built in the 17th century during the Ayutthaya period and was originally called “Wat Makok” after the village where it was located.
- The temple’s central prang (spire) is 86 meters high and decorated with colorful pieces of Chinese porcelain and seashells. It is said that the porcelain was used as ballast by the Chinese ships that came to trade in Thailand, and the Thai people collected them to decorate the temple.
- Wat Arun is also known as the “Temple of the Rising Sun” because of its location on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, which means that it is the first temple that catches the sunlight in the morning.
- The temple underwent major restoration work in the early 19th century during the reign of King Rama II, who added the four smaller prangs around the central prang and decorated them with intricate stucco designs.
- The temple is also home to a sacred Buddha image called “Phra Buddha Srisa Thong,” which is believed to have been cast in the Sukhothai period and was enshrined in the temple by King Rama II.
- Visitors can climb up the steep stairs of the central prang to enjoy a panoramic view of the Chao Phraya River and the surrounding area. However, visitors with mobility issues or fear of heights should know that climbing stairs can be challenging.
- Wat Arun is a popular place to visit during the annual Loy Krathong festival, which takes place on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month (usually in November) when thousands of people come to float krathongs (decorated baskets) on the river to pay respect to the water goddess.
Getting to Wat Arun
When planning a visit to Wat Arun, it is important to know how to get there. This section will discuss the various transportation options available to travelers.
The most convenient and affordable way to get to Wat Arun is by using public transportation. Visitors can take the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin Station and then head to Exit 2. From there, they can hop aboard the Chao Phraya Express Boat, which costs 15 Baht, to Tha Tien Pier. Once at the pier, visitors can take the cross-river ferry, which costs 4 Baht, to the temple.
Another option is to take a taxi or tuk-tuk to the temple. However, traffic in Bangkok can be heavy, so it is important to plan accordingly and allow extra time for travel.
Private transportation options are available for those who prefer more privacy and comfort. Visitors can hire a taxi or a private car to take them directly to the temple. This option is more expensive than public transportation but offers more convenience and comfort.
It is important to note that parking near Wat Arun can be difficult, so visitors should plan accordingly if they choose to drive themselves. Additionally, traffic in Bangkok can be heavy, so it is important to allow extra time for travel.
Exploring Wat Arun
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is a famous Buddhist temple located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. It is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Thai culture and history.
Wat Arun is known for its stunning architecture, especially its central prang (tower), which stands at 86 meters tall. Visitors can climb up the steep steps to the top of the prang for a breathtaking view of the surrounding area.
In addition to the prang, Wat Arun has several other notable features, including:
- The Ordination Hall houses a statue of the Buddha and intricate murals depicting scenes from his life.
- The Giant Swing a large red structure that was once used in a Brahmin ceremony to honor the god Shiva.
- The Belfry contains a bell that was cast in the reign of King Rama III.
Wat Arun is a beautiful temple and an important symbol of Thai culture and history. The temple was built during the Ayutthaya period, and its design reflects the influence of Khmer architecture.
According to local legend, the temple was named after the Hindu god Aruna, who is often depicted as the charioteer of the sun. The name “Wat Arun” means “Temple of Dawn,” and it is said that the temple’s spires reflect the first rays of the morning sun.
Visitors to Wat Arun can learn more about Thai culture and history by exploring the temple’s many exhibits and displays. The temple also hosts a range of cultural events throughout the year, including traditional dance performances and religious ceremonies.
When planning a visit to Wat Arun, it’s important to have some basic information about the temple. This section will provide visitors with all the necessary details to make their trip to Wat Arun as smooth as possible.
Wat Arun is open daily from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. Visitors can enter the temple grounds during this time and explore the temple at their own pace. It’s important to note that the temple may be closed during certain holidays or events, so it’s always a good idea to check the official website or call ahead to confirm the opening hours.
The entrance fee for Wat Arun is 100 baht per person. This fee includes access to the temple grounds and the main temple building. Visitors can purchase tickets at the entrance to the temple, and it’s recommended to bring cash as credit cards may not be accepted.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Wat Arun is in the early morning or late afternoon when the temperatures are cooler and the crowds are smaller. This will allow visitors to explore the temple at their own pace without feeling rushed or crowded. Additionally, visiting during these times will allow visitors to witness the sunrise or sunset over the Chao Phraya River, which is a truly breathtaking sight.
It’s important to note that Wat Arun is an active temple, and visitors should dress appropriately out of respect for the local customs and traditions. This means covering your shoulders and knees and avoiding revealing clothing. Visitors should also remove their shoes before entering the temple buildings.
When visiting Wat Arun, many other nearby attractions are worth exploring. Here are two popular options:
The Grand Palace is one of the most iconic landmarks in Bangkok and is located just across the river from Wat Arun. It was built in 1782 and served as the official residence of the Thai monarch until 1925. The palace complex is made up of several buildings, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which houses a highly revered statue of Buddha made from a single piece of jade. Visitors can explore the palace grounds and marvel at the intricate architecture and beautiful gardens. Dressing modestly when visiting the Grand Palace is recommended, as it is a sacred site.
Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is another popular attraction that is located nearby Wat Arun. It is one of Bangkok’s oldest and largest temples and is home to a massive 46-meter-long reclining Buddha statue. Visitors can also explore the temple grounds, filled with beautiful sculptures, intricate carvings, and colorful murals. Wat Pho is also known as a center for traditional Thai massage, and visitors can book a massage at the on-site school.
The Grand Palace and Wat Pho are must-visit attractions for anyone traveling to Bangkok, and they are conveniently located near Wat Arun. Visitors can easily spend a full day exploring these sites and immersing themselves in Thai culture and history.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get to Wat Arun from Pratunam?
You can take a taxi or a tuk-tuk to get to Wat Arun from Pratunam. The journey takes around 30 minutes, depending on traffic. Alternatively, you can take a boat from the Central Pier (Sathorn Pier) to the Tha Tien Pier, which is located near Wat Arun. The boat ride takes 15-20 minutes and offers a scenic view of the Chao Phraya River.
What is the entrance fee for Wat Arun in 2023?
As of 2023, the entrance fee for Wat Arun is 100 baht for foreigners and free for Thai nationals. The fee includes access to the temple grounds and the central prang (tower).
What are the opening hours for Wat Arun?
Wat Arun is open daily from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. However, visitors are not allowed to climb the central prang after 5:00 pm.
When is the best time to visit Wat Arun?
The best time to visit Wat Arun is early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds and the heat. The temple is also particularly beautiful at sunset when it is lit up and reflects off the river.
Is there a dress code for visiting Wat Arun?
Yes, there is a dress code for visiting Wat Arun. Visitors must dress modestly and cover their shoulders and knees. Shoes must also be removed before entering the temple grounds.
Is Wat Arun worth visiting?
Yes, Wat Arun is definitely worth visiting. The temple is one of the most iconic landmarks in Bangkok and features stunning Khmer-style architecture. Visitors can climb the central prang for a panoramic view of the city and the river. The temple is also near other popular attractions, such as the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
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