Last Updated 18/01/2023.
Wat Arun, The Temple of The Dawn or Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan 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 Tha Thien Market 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.
We have been to most of the big Wats in Bangkok, several times. The kids’ two favourites are Wat Pho 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 Pho 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.
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!
Wat Arun by Night
Wat Arun is illuminated at night and it’s an absolutely spectacular site to see. It’s best to see Wat Arun lit up from the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River, from a view point on the river’s edge, or to see it by boat. There are plenty of options for dinner cruises on the river, or the river ferries run late into the evening for a much cheaper viewpoint. Although I must say the dinner cruises are surprisingly cheap.
Take a look at this dinner cruise, we think it’s the best. There are much cheaper options on this site too.
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 and Temple of The Emerald Buddha, 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)
Wat Arun is 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.
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 Thailand’s 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.
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.
If you visit late in the day, around 5pm, the temple should be lit up for your return ferry trip as the sun goes down.
Entrance Fee For Wat Arun Bangkok : 50 Baht for foreign tourists, small children free, Thai locals also free.
Wat Arun Opening Hours
Wat Arun is normally open every day from 8am to 6pm, with the latest admission being 5.30pm.
To see Wat Arun by night, the best way is to take a ferry or river cruise, this Wat is one of the most beautiful sights in Thailand by night. You can’t enter by night, the Wat is best appreciated lit up from the river.
Wat Arun Opening Hours : 8am to 6pm every day, latest admission 5.30pm.
There are Two Parts to 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 (about $1.50) and don’t fancy climbing the prangs, you don’t have to pay, just wander around the outer complex.
How To Get to Wat Arun by Boat or MRT
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.
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 (Tha Tien Pier) a little ferry shuttles between the two sides of the river (4 Baht/person, the kids are free, sometimes).
The Sanam Chai MRT Station (underground on the blue MRT line) is the closest MRT station to Tha Tien Pier at 850m away. It would be easier to take a taxi or tuk tuk from your hotel direct to the Tha Tien Pier, or visit Wat Arun as part of a tour.
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. The ferry you need for Wat Arun is a much smaller boat as it only crosses the river here.
The nearest MRT station (blue line) on the Wat Arun side of the river is Itsaraphap MRT Station, from here take a taxi. The distance from the station to Wat Arun is only 2.2 km.
Look out 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.
Wat Pho to Wat Arun
Wat Pho is famous for its giant reclining golden Buddha and is another must see in Bangkok
It’s a good idea to visit Wat Pho and Wat Arun on the same day as they are very close together. The Grand Palace is also nearby, but to do all 3 major sites in Bangkok in one day would be exhausting, unless you booked an organised tour of Bangkok’s highlights as these tours take some of the pressure off you and save you time.
To Get To Wat Arun from Wat Pho : From Wat Pho walk to the Tha Tien Pier. This walk should take you less than 5 mins, the distance is less than 20m. You will need to cross Maha Rat Rd. This pier is surrounded by small shops and street food stalls it’s actually a very old market and floods in the wet season. You need to pass through this area to reach the pier. From here catch a small ferry to the opposite side of the river. The cost is normally 5 Baht per person, small children free. The jetty on the other side of the Chao Phraya River is directly in front of Wat Pho, you will see the ticket desk.
There are plenty of small restaurants and places to grab a snack in this area, if you need lunch between Wat Pho and Wat Arun.
If you plan to get around Bangkok by boat often, it is possible to buy a hop-on hop-off boat pass for the Chao Phraya River. Buy a boat pass here.
We have a full post on how to get around Thailand, there are so many options!
How To Get to Tha Tien Pier for Wat Arun : The Sanam Chai MRT Station (underground on the blue MRT line) is the closest MRT station to Tha Tien Pier. It is some 850m away. We would suggest you take a taxi or tuk tuk from your hotel direct to the pier, or visit Wat Arun as part of a tour.
Khao San Rd to Wat Arun
You can walk from the Khao San Rd to Tha Tien Pier for the river crossing to Wat Arun. The distance is 2 km and the walk should take you about 25 mins. If you’re not used to walking in the heat, get a taxi or tuk tuk but be certain they use their meter. Catching transport like this around the big tourist hotspots often leads to overcharging.
Alternatively, walk to the river Jetty closest to Khao San Rd, Pha Athit (Walk down Rambuttri Aly, towards the river, turn left, keep walking until you see a small market and the pier on the opposite side of the road). From here you can catch a ferry (Chao Praya Express Boat) to Tha Thien Pier, and from here catch the little ferry to the other side of the river and Wat Arun.
There is no BTS or MRT station close enough to Khao San Rd area to be practical for this trip.
Hotels Near Wat Arun Bangkok
Staying near Wat Arun in Bangkok Thailand is a good idea because there is plenty for tourists to do in this area of the city. However, I would stay on the east side of the river, not on the Wat Arun side, or you will be constantly having to catch the ferry boat or hop on the MRT.
Our list below is of hotels near Wat Arun, the first hotels will be the closest to the temple, you can scroll through. Be sure to check out This Bangkok hostel for a budget stay, or a private family room with bathroom (on Booking dot com). This is one we use. For a nice, comfortable hotel, with stunning view of Wat Arun and the river this is a good choice of accommodation. (on Booking.com). (photo above). This is their link on Agoda. All links open in a new tab so you won’t lose your place.
Enjoy Wat Arun and More of Thailand
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.