In a frenetic-paced modern and international city like Bangkok, pockets of tranquility and calm can still be found. Bangkok's most famous wat or Buddhist temple, Wat Arun, offers a respite from the crowds and the noise in this peaceful space set on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya river.
Formerly known as Wat Magog, the iconic Wat Arun is a prime tourist site that has undergone various name changes and restoration until settling on Wat Arunratchatharam under Rama II. This iconic landmark is immortalised on the bi-colour 10 baht coin and its symmetrical design is instantly recognisable from various Thai tourist publications. Known as ‘Temple of the Dawn', Bangkok's most famous wat is best viewed at sunset when its silhouette casts amber light across the beautiful riverside area.
Rising majestically above the river, Wat Arun consists of a 79-metre high central Khmer-style prang or tower and four smaller satellite prangs at each of the corners of the square courtyard symbolic of Thai temple architecture. The glittering slender spires are inlaid with an amazing array of multicoloured ceramic pieces made from Chinese porcelain and set in a traditional geometric pattern. The long prang and four smaller prang are an earthly representation of the 33 heavens in Buddhist theology. It is possible to climb the steep steps of the main prang which lead to two terraces housing priceless statues of Buddha and enjoy the view across the river. The wat also boasts a statue pair of mythical giants, ceramic gables and around 120 images of Buddha to admire.
If you don't feel energetic enough to climb the steps of the wat, there is also a small and peaceful riverside park where you can enjoy views across to the city. Located on the west side of the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun is a short ferry ride from Tha Tien Pier, and then a two-minute walk to the wat. Tickets are THB30, and remember to cover shoulders, arms and legs for admittance.