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Wat Arun. One of The Best Wats in Bangkok

Last Updated 18/11/2022.

Wat Arun, The Temple of The Dawn or Wat Arun Ratchawararam stands on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River at Thonburi in Central Bangkok. It is almost immediately opposite the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. A small shuttle ferry will take you to Wat Arun’s doorstep via Maharaj Pier. The temple catches the morning light and its ceramic mosaic prangs reflect it perfectly. Wat Arun dates from the 1600 s but the main prangs date from the reign of King Rama II. There is a small entry fee to this Buddhist temple for tourists, around 50 Baht. Small children should be free.

Wat Arun Bangkok
Wat Arun, Bangkok Thailand, one of the most beautiful Wats in Bangkok with a stunning river-side setting.

Wat Arun

We have been to most of the big Wats in Bangkok, several times. The kids’ two favourites are Wat Po and Wat Arun, they ask to go back every time we’re in Bangkok.

With Wat Arun, it’s the river taxi ride to get there and climbing the prangs that attract them. At Wat Po I think they just enjoy exploring the grounds and, of course, the huge reclining Buddha is spectacular.

So if you’re in Bangkok with kids don’t limit yourself to “for kids” attractions, even small children can get a lot out of the cultural sites too.

View of Wat Arun Bangkok From Side of the river
Wat Arun from the opposite side of the river. To get there just take the little ferry crossing.

I’ve been to Wat Arun twice in the two weeks we’ve been in Bangkok. That must be some sort of record.

 I guess it’s one of the best things about slow travel, if we like somewhere we’ve got the option of going back. It was the kids’ idea, they wanted Dad to see it because they enjoyed it so much.

I’m glad I went along to Wat Arun a second time because there was a whole section we missed during our first visit.

For the children it was a combination of steep steps, cats and bells to ring, they’re easy to please!

Climbing the prangs at wat arun

Inside Wat Arun

Inside Wat Arun there are a number of different buildings plus the very tall prang. Visitors can climb this tower via very steep stone steps. The complex also has lovely gardens to explore and a large population of cats.

Yes, the children did climb all the way up the prang at Wat Arun. I didn’t, they’re now calling me a wuss. I’m very scared of heights, how I ever cross those terrifying bridges in Nepal is a mystery.

I’m not sure Wat Arun is the best Wat in Bangkok, I’m a big fan of The Grand Palace, it’s breathtaking, but Wat Arun (the temple of the dawn)  is really pretty and different. (See our guide to things to do in Bangkok)

It’s not all glitzy, sparkly gold and mirrors like Wat Pho and The Grand Palace, it’s got a really pretty floral design, totally different, really fresh and lovely.

Wat Arun Bangkok beautiful decoration in porcelain

The decorations are made from broken porcelain and cowrie shells, they all came from China as ballast on the trade ships. Having taken a tour with a local guide years ago, I could tell the kids that and look knowledgeable. It’s a very good idea to book tours of all of Thailands’ main sites if you want to learn some Thai history and understand what (Wat) you’re seeing. You can book a Wat Arun guided tour here, it’s very affordable and will give you an easier, more enjoyable day out in Bangkok.

The tour link I gave you above is for a tour that combines Wat Pho and Wat Arun, so she should have an easier time getting on the right ferry, from the correct jetty, too. Here’s that link again. This company has heaps of tours in Bangkok and Thailand, you should book a few.

sea shalls and broken china decorate wat arun bangkok

Wat Arun Entrance Fee

Wat Arun is also one of the cheapest of the big tourist draw Wats, 50 Baht/adult, the children got in for nothing, Wat Pho was 100 Baht, The Grand Palace was 400 Baht. Child admission prices seem to be based on height, get the kids to look short and cute, sometimes D ( 9) gets in for free, sometimes not.

Prices were correct at the time of our last visit, please check for current prices.

You don’t get the huge crowds at Wat Arun as you do at the Palace or Wat Po. It’s a smaller complex to get around and it’s cooler with the river breeze, making it a more comfortable Wat to visit with children.

There are Two Parts to Wat Arun.

buddha inside wat arun bangkok thailand
Inside Wat Arun

The part you have to pay to enter, the part with the prangs ( towers), is only a small part of this Buddhist temple complex, if you go around the edges there is much more to see. If you want to save yourself 50 Baht and don’t fancy climbing the prangs, don’t pay, just wander around the complex.

kids admission wat arun bangkok having fun
Inside the Wat Arun complex.

Getting to Wat Arun by Boat is Part of the Fun.

To get to Wat Arun from Bangkok south of the river (Khao San Rd, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho etc) you need to catch a little ferry and get off at Wat Arun’s own jetty or pier.

getting to wat arun by boat
Crossing the river to get to Wat Arun, Bangkok

Wat Arun is very easy to get to by boat, it has its own jetty on the Chao Phraya River, right opposite the jetty for Wat Pho, a little ferry shuttles between the two sides of the river (3 Baht/person, the kids are free, sometimes).  

Different boats run up and down the river, the tourist boat will set you back 40 Baht for a one-way ticket, the “local” boat is 15 Baht. Look our for the huge river fish at the jetties, you can feed them for an extra 10 Baht from the Wat Arun side. Again, check the prices, they may have changed since publication.

If you’re heading to Thailand and looking for things to do in Bangkok, do your very best to get to Wat Arun, or at least take a look from the river. It’s nice to get up close and see the ceramics and gardens if you possibly can. See our full Thailand travel coverage here, if you want to really see Thailand, there are a lot of places you should go.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

Jill Owen

Saturday 11th of January 2020

Do you recall if the temples and the grand palace accept credit card payments? We are only in Thailand for a day and trying to minimize currency orders from the bank.

Alyson for World Travel Family

Saturday 11th of January 2020

I think they do at the Palace and Wat Po. Wat Arun is a lot smaller and the little ticket office on the river is tiny, so I'd guess not, but I could be totally wrong.

Andrew

Sunday 6th of October 2019

Hi, what do you meant by "local" Ferry to wat arun. Is it government operated agency. How to differentiate n where to buy ticket n board local ferry

Alyson Long

Sunday 6th of October 2019

You buy the tickets on the jetty Andrew and I don't know what you mean sorry.

Zar

Thursday 20th of June 2019

When did the ticket price to the Grand Palace change? The last time I went there, it was 500 baht. That was just a couple of months ago.

Alyson Long

Thursday 20th of June 2019

No idea Zar, these were the prices when we last visited. It does say that in the post. One of the kids in the picture is now 15!

Korina

Monday 15th of July 2013

Loving the posts :)

Kali

Monday 15th of July 2013

Really neat post! It almost feels like we're traveling with you. :)

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