A Complete Guide to Visiting Wat Arun Temple in Bangkok, Thailand
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn or Wat Chaeng among locals, is one of the highlights of Bangkok and an unmissable place to visit during your trip to Bangkok. It’s located right on the riverside of Chao Phraya and it has incredible architecture.
If you’re planning a visit soon, you’re in the right place! The complete guide below will tell you everything you need to know before visiting Wat Arun in Thailand, from opening times to ticket prices, tours, how to get there and more.
Are you ready?
First of all, why should you visit Wat Arun Temple?
It isn’t hard to see why Wat Arun is considered one of the prettiest temples in Thailand and one of the main attractions in Bangkok! Standing majestically on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the temple is an impressive sight at both sunrise and sunset when Wat Arun shines golden in the light.
Wat Arun dates back to the 17th century and its beautiful prang (main spire) was only added when King Rama II ruled the country. The central spire of Wat Arun stands over 70 meters high with four smaller spires found at each corner of the main paragon. The surface of the temple is covered with over one million broken pieces of Chinese porcelain tiles (how awesome is that?!) which shine as they catch the light. If you listen closely, you will hear the little bells that dangle from the top of all 5 spires, gently chiming in the breeze.
Named after the Hindu Goddess Aruna, the word “Arun” in Sanskrit translates to “the light of dawn”. It is believed that Wat Arun was built by General Taksin in 1768, who arrived at the temple during daybreak after returning from battle. For a time, it acted as the king’s royal temple and was home to the Emerald Buddha before the statue was moved to the Grand Palace.
You can normally climb the stairway of the main temple but we were unlucky when we went as climbing was not allowed due to reconstruction. The steps to the top are known to be quite steep, but the railing is there to help keep you steady. All in all, it’s a must-visit!
Everything you need to know about visiting Wat Arun, Bangkok
What to see inside Wat Arun Temple
Did you know that Wat Arun is not just one temple, but a temple complex? And quite a gorgeous one, I must admit. You’ll find the Main Temple (also known as the holiest of all temples), the Ordination Hall and Phra Prang. Plus other beautiful buildings, murals and statues that are waiting to be discovered.
I 100% encourage you to visit the rest of the temple complex. So many tourists simply visit the main temple and then leave, but I loved walking around and exploring the smaller temples on the Wat Arun grounds and was lucky enough to receive a blessing from a monk there.
As I was exploring the grounds, I heard chanting from inside a smaller temple. I slipped off my shoes and slowly peered inside. A solo monk sat on a raised area, inviting people forward for blessings. The monk saw me watching from the doorway and beckoned me forward, motioning for me to sit before him with my hands in prayer high by my forehead. As he recited a blessing, he gently sprinkled holy water across my head and shoulders. The monk then directed me to put my arm out before him and lightly tied a sai sin (blessed bracelet for good luck and protection) around my wrist. He was so deft, effortlessly tying the string not too loose or too tight, without ever coming in contact with my skin.
It was such a special experience, both to witness and to have for me.
How to get to Wat Arun, Bangkok
Wat Arun is centrally located, on the West bank of the Chao Phraya River, which divides Bangkok in two. Its location is right on the opposite side of Wat Phra Temple. By far, the easiest way to reach it is by ferry. You can catch a ferry from Tha Tien Pier, which will drop you right in front of Wat Arun and vice-versa on return. The terminal is small and surrounded by food stalls, restaurants and souvenir shops. You really can’t miss it if you stick to the riverside.
NOTE: The ferry can get pretty full around midday, so you may need to stand, but the journey is so, so short (literally 5min) so it isn’t too inconvenient.
There are other options to get to Wat Arun by road, but I really wouldn’t recommend it (unless, of course, you are staying on the West side of the river). It’s far by road and the journey length really doesn’t make sense when getting a boat is so cheap and easy!
Boat price: 4 baht/person, each way (0.13 US$)
Leaving: Every 5-10 minutes or once the ferry is full from Tha Tien Pier
Journey duration: 5 minutes
Wat Arun address: 158 Thanon Wang Doem, Wat Arun, Bangkok Yai, Bangkok 10600
Co-ordinates: 13.743704, 100.488877
Wat Arun opening hours
Wat Arun Temple is open every day, year-round, from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM. The last admission is at 4:40 PM.
Best time to visit Wat Arun Temple
AIM FOR: If you want to avoid the crowds, the best time to visit Wat Arun is in the morning. Most tourists head to the Grand Palace first, so heading to Wat Arun early is a nice way to get it all to yourself.
Around 10:00 AM Wat Arun starts to get busier and by midday, it’s all hot and crowded. You’ll find yourself dancing around the central spire searching for a spot of shade. After 3:00 PM the temperatures cool down a bit and the crowds die down too (the last admission is at 4:40 PM), so the late afternoon is another good time to visit. In short, aim for sunrise or sunse.
AVOID: Peak hours between 10:00 AM and 3:30 PM
TIP: Head to the East side of the river for jaw-dropping sunset views over the temple. As the sun begins to sink, the sky turns red and the temple almost lights up before plunging into a dark silhouette.
HOW LONG TO SPEND AT WAT ARUN: at least 1 hour, ideally 2 hours. During our visit, it took about two hours to slowly wander around Wat Arun and its grounds.
Wat Arun entrance fee
The Wat Arun grounds (which include a few smaller temples) are free to enter and explore, but you will need to purchase a ticket at the entrance to access the main temple.
Wat Arun ticket price: 50 baht (1.60 US$)
Best Wat Arun tours
Here’s an idea: instead of losing precious vacation time trying to organise your itinerary to the main highlights of the city such as the Grand Palace with its Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho Temple and Wat Arun as well, why not book an organised tour with a local guide? A combo tour is great for saving time and seeing as much as possible in a short given time. Here are my hand-picked recommendations for combo tours for Wat Pho, Wat Arun and the famous Grand Palace.
- Flexi Walking Temple Tour: Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun – one of the most popular tour options for seeing all 3 temples! Entrance tickets included.
- Bangkok in a Day: Must-Visit Highlights Tour with a Guide – for travellers that only have a short time in Bangkok and want to see as many attractions as possible;
- Bangkok: 4-Hour Night Bike Tour with Wat Arun & Wat Pho – for active travellers willing to take a night tour!
- Best Of Bangkok: Temples & Long-tail Boat Tour with Lunch – boat ride included!
- Bangkok: Instagram Spots & Half-Day Temples Tour
Best restaurants with a view of Wat Arun
Here are the best spots for sipping a drink and admiring an amazing view of the temple, especially at night:
- My top recommendation: the rooftop bar at Sala Arun Hotel called “Eagle Nest” – a great place to see the sunset from the opposite side of Wat Arun! You can find more details about it here. No need to be a guest to visit and the view is simply incredible. Get ready for some beautiful photos!
- Eat Sight Story Deck
- Vivi The Coffee Place
- Supanniga Eating Room
- The Deck by Arun Residence
Wat Arun dress code
Like many religious sites, there is a dress code to abide by when visiting Wat Arun. Visitors must cover their shoulders, chest and knees. Men should wear pants and shirts with sleeves (no tank tops) and women should wear pants or skirts that pass their knees. If in doubt, just keep in mind that this is a place of worship and dress modestly.
However, if you find you don’t have clothing that fits the requirements, don’t stress too much. You can cover up by renting a sarong at the entrance for 20 baht (there is also a 100 baht deposit).
RANT: One of my personal pet peeves that I saw happen around Wat Arun (sorry, but I just have to call this out) was women covering their legs and shoulders to get past the entrance and then altering their clothes for photos once inside. I am serious. I actually saw women changing their outfits to be more revealing, I am guessing ‘for the gram’. This is so ridiculous to me. Beyond ridiculous. This should be obvious, but just to clarify – it is not okay to hitch up your skirt or unbutton your blouse for an Instagram picture when visiting a religious site. Wat Arun is not the place to go for a sexy photo shoot. It’s disrespectful and quite frankly, it makes you look daft. Save the ‘oh la la’ for the poolside, ladies.
Packing list for Wat Arun
Remember to bring:
What to visit near Wat Arun Temple in Bangkok
Except for the Temple of Dawn, there are some other unmissable attractions to tick off your list on the banks of the Chao Phraya River:
- Grand Palace – one of THE most popular attractions in Bangkok. It’s quite hectic most of the times, so if you want all the best tips about visiting the Grand Palace, I recommend checking out my dedicated guide: Visiting The Grand Palace in Bangkok – Guide and Useful Tips
- Wat Pho Temple – this is another beautiful temple where the Reclining Buddha is located, a 46-meter-long statue that’s just as impressive as the Emerald Buddha. You can either walk to Wat Pho, take a water taxi or a tuk-tuk.
- Wat Mahathat – a great place for Vipassana Meditation and buying cute souvenirs. It’s also among the oldest temples in Bangkok;
- Bangkok National Museum – one of the biggest museums in Southeast Asia and the best place to see some beautiful local art and statues;
- Museum of Siam – only a boat ride away, this discovery museum is the perfect place to learn more about Thai life, both history and present times;
BONUS #1: My best tips for visiting the Temple of Dawn
I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to give you the most precious tips I found out when I visited Wat Arun, am I right? Here goes:
- The best time to visit is very early in the morning or late in the evening;
- If you want to visit the main temple and pagoda, keep in mind that the stairs up are quite steep so be careful at all times;
- Don’t forget about the dress code – dress appropriately if you want to be allowed inside the temple! This is true for all religious sites and temples in Thailand;
- Photography is allowed free of charge everywhere inside the location;
- King Rama II placed his crown on the top of the main pagoda – make sure to check it out!
- Don’t miss the other attractions nearby on the banks of Chao Phraya, either on the same side or on the opposite side. These are all mentioned above!
BONUS #2: Recommended camera gear for visiting Bangkok
Here’s our camera gear that we take all around with us, perfect for Bangkok too. It has everything you’ll ever need!
CAMERA: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
EVERYDAY LENS: Canon EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens
WIDE ANGLE LENS: Sigma 10-20mm f3.5 EX DC
PORTRAIT LENS: Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG
GOPRO: GoPro HERO8 Black
NV FILTER: Hoya 82mm Variable Density Screw-in Filter
HARD DRIVE: LaCie 4 TB
RELATED READ: If you want to read more about our photography gear, I recommend checking out my dedicated article: What’s in my Camera Bag – All My Travel Blogging Gear
You have reached the end of my complete travel guide for Wat Arun Temple (Temple of Dawn) in Bangkok. This gorgeous temple on the banks of the Chao Phraya River is one of Thailand’s treasures, a place full of history, with superb architecture! I truly believe this is one of the unmissable spots that should be part of your Bangkok itinerary for sure.
If you want to visit some other unforgettable attractions located in Bangkok such as Wat Pho or the Grand Palace, I recommend clicking here to find all my posts about Bangkok.