Wat Arun — One of Thailand’s Most Spectacular and Oldest Temples

Wat Arun — One of Thailand’s Most Spectacular and Oldest Temples

By Chris QuanUpdated Oct. 19, 2021

Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, was built in memory of Taksin, who was the 41st king and national hero of Thailand. It is recognized as one of the most iconic and beautiful temples in Thailand.

Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun is famous for its magnificent 79-meter-high central spire, reputed as being Thailand’s Eiffel Tower, which has a unique design and fine craftsmanship. It is the best place to overlook the Chao Phraya River and enjoy the night view.

Wat Arun Facts

  • Purpose: in memory of the Thai national hero — King Taksin
  • Popularity: ranked as #3 for things to do in Bangkok by TripAdvisor
  • Popular activities: appreciating the architecture and seeing the winding Chao Phraya River below
  • Suited to: people who are fond of temples and want to know about Thailand’s history
  • Time needed: 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • Open: 8am–6pm
  • Location: 158 Thanon Wang Doem, Wat Arun, Bangkok Yai (almost directly opposite Wat Pho) 
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The Towering Spire — the Highlight

The Chao Phraya River flows through Bangkok and divides it into two areas. Many famous temples are located on the east bank but Wat Arun sits on the west bank. Its stunning towering spire is one of the landmarks of Bangkok.

Built in 1809, the 79-meter-high imposing spire is the largest Mahayana one in Thailand. The base and the tower body are square. The exterior of the spire is decorated with intricate carvings and inlaid with a variety of colorful ceramic plates, glasses, and shells that make it splendid and solemn. There are four small towers around it, forming a large and beautiful cluster of towers.

When you climb up the central spire and reach the highest point, you will see the winding Chao Phraya River beneath and the Grand Palace and Wat Pho opposite. Take care when you climb because the steps are steep. The railing will help a lot.

The Ordination Hall houses a golden Buddha image. Many Buddhists and tourists go there to worship. Make sure you dress appropriately or pick up one of the cover-ups that are available for rent near the entrance.

Every December, the temple will hold a grand fiesta, which is one of the important ceremonies of the Thai royal family.

Stunning View from the Chao Phraya River

If you wish to see the stunning view of Wat Arun or want to find a good spot to take a photo, taking a cruise on the Chao Phraya River is recommended.

In the daytime, the imposing spire sparkles under the bright sunlight. The sparkling spire and its surroundings form a wonderful picture against the blue sky.

Wat Arun creates a different scene at sunset. The setting sun shines on the spire, adding a more solemn atmosphere. In the evening, the spire is resplendent in the light.

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Why It Is Called the Temple of Dawn

It is said that after King Taksin drove out the Burmese army, he traveled down the Chao Phraya River and passed the temple at dawn, at which point he gave the order to go ashore to worship in the temple. Later, he gave orders for the temple to be rebuilt and changed the name to the Temple of Dawn.

Another belief is that people think the temple’s 79-meter-high spire is the first place to greet the dawn every day, which is why it was named the Temple of Dawn.

Who King Taksin Was

King Taksin was the founder of the Thonburi Kingdom, the third unified kingdom in Thai history. He was an ethnic Chinese person born in Thailand. His father was from Chaoshan, a city in Guangdong Province, China.

After the fall of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, he recruited troops to defeat the Burmese army, pacified the separatist forces, unified the country, and established the Thonburi Kingdom, which laid the foundation for the map of modern Thailand.

On December 28, 1767, Taksin was crowned the King of the Thonburi Kingdom. He reigned for 15 years and died in 1782. Due to his love for the people as well as his benevolence, morality, and great contributions to the country and the nation, the Thai people looked up to him. Therefore, the Thai government has designated December 28th as the annual "King Taksin Day" to honor the national hero.

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How to Get to Wat Arun

  • By ferry: Take a ferry at Tha Tien Pier, which is near Wat Pho.
  • By road: Take a tuk tuk or taxi and show the address to the driver.

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