Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and is one of the most impressive complexes in Bangkok. It was named after Aruna, the god of dawn, who originates from Indian mythology. Contrary to what one might assume from its name, however, the temple only reveals its full beauty at sunset and attracts numerous visitors to the roof terraces of the surrounding bars.
However, we decided to visit the temple during the day, as it is only a stone's throw away from the Royal Palace, which we had visited in the morning. Coming from the Grand Palace, we headed for the nearest boat landing stage, as we first had to cross the Chao Phraya River. We bought tickets for a few baht and waited for the next ferry. You can find the exact landing stages and travel times here.
Once we reached the other bank, we walked to the entrance of the temple and bought two tickets for 100 baht each (~ €2.60). The complex is open daily from 08:00 - 18:00. In addition, a few dress rules should be observed. Shorts, belly and shoulderless tops or skimpy dresses should stay in the closet out of respect for the culture.
After a few meters from the entrance, you will reach the central tower, also known as Phra Prang, which forms the focal point of the complex. This is very different from the rest of the buildings in Bangkok. This is highlighted above all by countless mosaics with colorful flower and vine patterns. The temple tower, which is around 70 meters high and 234 meters wide in diameter, is divided into four levels. Stairs lead from all four sides to the next level. On the lowest plateau there are four small prangs dedicated to the wind god Phra Phai. The next platform is supported by demons, the third by monkeys and the top level is supported by devatas, i.e. celestial beings. The prang also symbolizes the world mountain Meru, which rose from the sea and whose peak is adorned by the Hindu god Indra.
The temple itself already has a long history. It was built when Ayutthaya was still the capital of Thailand, after its destruction Thonburi, now Bangkok, took over this title. When construction began on King Taksin's palace in 1768, the project also included Wat Arun, which was then known as Wat Makok. In addition, the famous Emerald Buddha was housed in this complex for several years before moving to Wat Phra Kaeo.
After climbing countless steps - after all, we had to explore the four levels no matter what - we relaxed in the shade for a while, admiring the buildings and watching the passing visitors. Some of us really struggled with the stairs, as they were steep and the oppressive heat of the midday sun caused some of us to lose heart. We then took a boat back to our hotel. The next day, we wanted to climb the Golden Mount before our days in Bangkok were numbered again.