Mar 29 2012

Wat Arun: The temple of DIY

Published by at 4:53 pm under Sightseeing & activities

Wat Pho may be the larger-than-life stunner on the Bangkok temple circuit, but Wat Arun is still a fine lookin’ piece of sacred real estate waiting across the river.  If you are like me and equate the old with the stunning, the decrepit with the intriguing, then Wat Arun is worth a stop on your ferry ride.

This way to heaven.

Unlike Wat Pho or The Grand Palace, Wat Arun is on the west side of the Chao Phraya River, in Thonburi. Yes, that sounds awfully inconvenient for a packed sightseeing schedule, but it is actually a two baht, millisecond ferry ride from Wat Pho. That’s .04 pounds, .07 dollars, or 1/50 of an ice cream cone. What a steal! And just think, one time long ago, they actually had to move the entire wat from the palace grounds to the other side of the river. All you’re doing is moving yourself.

Blossoming flower corners.

The most salient part of Wat Arun is its central prang, which falls somewhere between the phallic and the DIY movement. Tall, erect, and bedazzled with shards of floral earthenware and seashells, Wat Arun is a fine beauty from up close and afar. There are four Khmer-style towers, each held up by monkeys and tired-looking demons. Given its epithet, the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun looks best in the early hours of the morning, or for those who value sleep, in the soft gloaming of the night.

I'll just watch from down here

Without the thrills and frills of its golden neighbour and half the price of entry, Wat Arun’s main activity is walking up the treacherous stairs to enjoy views of the Chao Phraya River. It’s like a historical StairMaster, and worthy of spot on our detox day in Bangkok itinerary. But given the crowds and the wrath of mother nature, you might want to opt for a lower view.  I waited at the bottom and observed the Chinese porcelain instead.

Heavy lifting.

Wat Arun
No. 35, Arun Amarin Road, Kwang Wat Arun
From Tha Thien Pier, take the cross-river ferry, which leaves every 10 minutes from 6:00 to 22:00 daily (2 baht). The Chao Phraya River Tourist Express Boat tickets are not accepted.
19, 57, and 83

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