Wat Arun is my favorite temple in Bangkok. With its prominent spires pointing towards the sky, it cuts a striking figure on the horizon. The temple has existed since at least the 17th century and once held the sacred Emerald Buddha. (Head across the river to the Grand Palace if you want to see the national treasure.) Wat Arun, or the Temple of the Dawn, is named for Aruna, the God of the Rising Sun. Its white plaster surface is iridescent in the morning sunshine.
Colorful bits of broken porcelain dinnerware adorn the temple’s facade. Chinese merchant ships once plied the Chao Praya river and carried dishes as ballast. Once in port, these dishes were no longer needed and tossed overboard. Statues of Chinese warriors stand prominently around the grounds, perhaps as a “thank you” for the free decorations.
The prominent spires are 19th century additions. It’s possible to access a terrace about two-thirds the way up the central spire. The stairs are very steep and the climb strenuous, but the view is absolutely worth the effort if you are able. Getting back down is a bit tricky, so go slow and hold onto the railing. (I also used the railing to pull myself up the top few stairs on the ascent. Visiting this temple is a workout!) Reward yourself with a freshly cracked coconut.
Wat Arun is easy to reach by taking a ferry across the river. You can find the latest timetables and fares on the Chao Praya Express Boat website.
Remember to dress appropriately when touring any temple or palace in Thailand. Both men and women must cover their legs and shoulders to enter the grounds.
Are you ready to visit Wat Arun in Bangkok? Be sure to check out my detailed Bangkok itinerary!