Wat Arun, also known as the “Temple of Dawn” is a Buddhist temple (wat) in Bangkok, Thailand, on the Thoburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Wat Arun is among the best known of Thailand’s landmarks, specifically because the first light of the morning reflects off the surface of the temple with pearly iridescence.
The main highlight of Wat Arun is undoubtedly the grand pagoda (or prang in Thai). Influenced by Khmer-style pagodas, the 67-meter-tall pagoda is made of cement covered by millions of pieces of China porcelains. It is surrounded by four smaller pagodas.
In a super-colorful-photoshopped world, this (above) is what Wat Arun may look at dawn, but we went at sunset so we got a different view. The view was very pretty with the sun setting behind the temple, but I doubt we will ever get to see the temple at dawn since we like to sleep in!
Chao Phraya River crossing
After a long, but exciting, day of sightseeing in Bangkok, Justin rushed us to this pier so that we could make it across the Chao Phraya River before sunset. We wanted to climb the main pagoda at Wat Arun to see as much of the sunset as we could. The ferry that takes you across the river was very cheap — a mere 3 baht one-way, per person. Entrance to the temple was 50 yuan per person, and although there were sharongs for hire (to cover one’s shoulders and legs), they never asked either of us to wear them so we assumed that we were dressed moderately enough.
50 Baht admission fee
Once inside the temple grounds, we strolled around taking pictures and being silly. There were not many people around, and everything was quiet, so at times we felt like we were alone there. It seemed that we had picked a perfect day, and time, to visit this temple.
The stairs going up the grand pagoda were very steep and narrow! Preggo-momma had to go up first with Justin going slowly behind “us”. My belly makes it harder to see my feet like I normally would, so I had to take extra care to step without tripping! As you can see from the pictures below, the climb was definitely worth the effort because we could see the temple grounds, the river, and a 360-degree view of Bangkok city.
When we got to the highest level that we could, Justin left a secret note where hundreds of others had written their names. We just had found out earlier that day that we were having a BOY, but we had not yet told anyone, so he was thrilled to be able to write it somewhere. Even though, at the time, no one would be able to see it!
A few other tourists were sitting on this upper level of the pagoda and watching the sunset, so we stopped there to do the same. It felt like we had the best seats in the Beijing for this beautiful sunset!
Just before sunset some spotlights were turned on, and the temple started to reflect beautiful reds, oranges and pinks. The darker the sky got, the more the temple shone. It was a beautiful sight indeed. Unfortunately we were told to climb down the pagoda before the sun had completely set, and we assume that this was for safety reasons since the steps were so steep, and potentially dangerous in dim light.
Down on the ground, we watched the sky continue to change and the temple light up more and more in comparison to the fading sky – What a spectacular sight! I had been wearing flip-flops all day, but I took them off to climb up and down the stairs of the grand pagoda. Justin sweetly cleaned my feet for me once we got to the ground again.
Although the temple grounds close at 5:30pm, you are free to roam the area just outside the temple gates, where the Wat is still clearly viewable. Not wanting to head back across the river yet, we chose to sit down, have some refreshments, and enjoy the temples changing colours.
Being our silly-selves. We crack each other up!
Once the sky was completely dark, and we were ready to get moving again, so we explored the outer temple grounds once more. All the buildings were then lit up, and they all looked very different from when we had arrived a couple of hours earlier. We definitely recommend staying on the temple side of the river, even after you have to leave the immediate temple grounds.
Back on the river-ferry we got an amazing glimpse of the temple backed by a completely dark sky. It was beautiful to see it from the water, especially since it reflected onto the river and shone even more brightly.
Shopping near the pier
We did some browsing once we got to the other side of the river again, but this was a very touristy spot, so we didn’t feel that anything was worth bargaining for. Never buy souvenirs (or anything else,, for that matter) near a temple — you will always pay more.
Coconut Mocktail for the preggi-fairy
We ended to day back on Rumbuttri Soi where we enjoyed some interesting new side dishes, and then of course, delicious Thai curries! We loved our trip to Wat Arun, and we recommend a sunset visit to anyone who is interested in seeing the temple when it is lit up and surrounded by a beautiful setting sun.