Wat Arun is easily amongst the top 3 of must visit wats in Bangkok, Thailand. Is it worth the hype? Depends on what you're going there for, in my opinion. Let me explain in more detail in this post but first if you fancy getting here via public transport (as opposed to taking a taxi, Grab or tuk tuk) check out my post HERE.
Wat Arun has arguably one of the most iconic Thai structures and the complex dates back to the 1800'S. The cost for admission to Wat Arun was $50 Baht. Relatively inexpensive, right? Well, it's probably because you're only paying to get access to the Prangs, which are the spire/pyramid looking structures, the rest of the wat complex is free . At first, I thought the main spire was a chedi/stupa. I'm not entirely sure what the difference between a prang, chedi or stupa is, only that a chedi or stupa usually houses and a relic/artifact. So I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't a relic on the premises (that I could find or was aware of). Once you pay the entrance fee, you can choose to walk around the spire platform or you can head up the 5 or 6 steps to get onto the platform that the spires are built on. I then took a walk around the platform in between the central spire and the four smaller ones before heading up onto the central spire's platform using the really steep stairs that have no hand rails. While walking around the central spire, you'll find more really steep stairs going even further up, but sadly they are closed to the public.
The only other wat that I've seen amulets for sale (in Bangkok) is in Wat Pho. The selection at Wat Arun is by far larger and of higher material quality. My amulet from Wat Pho has tarnished very badly but my amulet from Wat Arun is almost as shiny as when I purchased it. Also, when I purchased my amulet from Wat Arun, they brought me and the amulet over to the monk "on duty" and he "blessed" it, performed a "renewal" chant on my existing amulets and said a prayer for me as well! An experience I've never had when purchasing amulets. I quite enjoyed it, I haven't had a prayer session with a monk in ages.
Around the ubosot are other structures including more spires/chedi/stupa/prang shaped structures, not sure what exactly they are but they look interesting. As did the bells you can ring by hitting them with a stick (as opposed to the usual clanging them with the stick that dangles inside each bell. Other works of art on the premises are statues and wall murals all are really quite nice, some look dated too.
Overall, my personal feeling is that Wat Arun, as a temple, is how it should be, the religious parts are free for the people, supported by donations and having a ticket able venue (the prangs). I very much enjoyed the temple complex, not so much the prangs. Having said that, I think the prangs are best seen either at sunrise or dusk. A monk told me to come back at night when the lights are on, "it's much more beautiful," he said. Having seen Wat Arun close to sunset, I would tend to agree, but as usual, I didn't have time to stay plus I think the view of the whole complex would be better from across the river.
All the photos (unless otherwise noted in the post) were taken by me and are available for sale. If you're interested in buying an image or three, 😃 please don't hesitate to contact me for more details. Thanks in advance!
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