On the banks of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River sits one of the city’s most dramatictemples, Wat Arun. It’s really hard to miss if you’ve hopped one of the tourist boat rides up or down the river, and virtually impossible to ignore if you’re staying in one of the riverside hotels dotting the banks.
“Wat Arun” translates to “Temple of Dawn” and, if you are lucky enough to see the temple glisten in the rising sun’s light, you’ll understand why. Thought to have been originally built in the 17th Century, the Khmer-reminiscent towers can be spied from most everywhere in the neighborhood as they keep a watchful presence not only over the river, but the Bangkok Yai District.
On first impression, the grounds are well manicured with a handful of vendors selling silk faic, cold drinks and some light bites. If you can make it through here with only handing over the 50 baht for entry, you’ll be sitting pretty to wander around the wat.
The biggest prang is the central structure clad in colorful mosaic tiles, an example of ingenious recycling when oken porcelain used for shipping boats’ ballasts were reused to decorate, something which happened during a temple refurbishment in the early 19th century.
If you’re not afraid of heights, ave the steps up to the (almost) top of the central tower. After three sets of stairs that gradually grow steeper and steeper, a few water eaks and handfuls of photos, we reached as far we could go and were rewarded with stunning, 360-degree views of the area. It’s definitely worth the sweat, sore legs and vertigo to rest in the peace and quiet of a deeply religious plot.