The outstanding feature of Wat Arun is its central prang (Khmer-style tower). Steep steps lead to the two terraces. The height is reported by different sources as between 66,80 m and 86 m. The corners are surrounded by 4 smaller satellite prangs. The prangs are decorated by seashells and bits of porcelain which had previously been used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China. Around the base of the prangs are various figures of ancient Chinese soldiers and animals. Over the second terrace are four statues of the Hindu god Indra riding on Erawan.
At the riverside are 6 pavilions (sala) in Chinese style. The pavilions are made of green granite and contain landing bridges.
Next to the prangs is the Ordination Hall with the Niramitr Buddha image supposedly designed by King Rama II. The front entrance of the Ordination Hall has a roof with a central spire, decorated in coloured ceramic and stuccowork sheated in coloured china. There are 2 demons, or temple guardian figures in front.
History of the temple
The temple was built in the days of Thailand's ancient capital of Ayutthaya and originally known as Wat Makok (The Olive Temple). In the ensuing era when Thonburi was capital, King Taksin changed the name to Wat Chaeng.
The Wat had a brief period as host of the Emerald Buddha, which was moved to Wat Phra Kaew in 1784.
The later King Rama II. changed the name to Wat Arunratchatharam. He restored the temple and enlarged the central prang. The work was finished by King Rama III. King Rama IV gave the temple the present name Wat Arunratchawararam.
As a sign of changing times, Wat Arun officially ordained its first westerner in 2005. Sean Patrick from America.
The central prang is symbolizing mount Meru of the Indian cosmology. The satellite prangs are devoted to the wind god Phra Phai.
The demons (Thai: Yaksha) at the entrance way to the ubosot are from the Ramakien. The white figure is named Sahassa Deja and the green one is known as Thotsakan, the Demon Ravana from Ramayana.
Wat Arun is a little unusual as it's really the only major tourist attraction on the Thonburi side of the river. It is open every day from 8.30am to 5.30pm. Officially, entrance to the Wat is 20B and the ferry crossing is 2B. Sometimes if you walk around the Wat grounds, you will be requested for a donation (with a book showing how everyone else gave 100B/200B), and sometimes the staff at the pier will cite some excuse and charge another 10B or so to let you through.
Other attractions fairly easy to reach from here are Wat Pho, Wat Phra Kaew, the National Museum, Chinatown the Ko Rattanakosin area, and the Banglamphu district.
Due to it's location, by far the best and most common way to get to Wat Arun is on the river. The Tha Tien express boat pier, at the southwest corner of the Grand Palace / Wat Phra Kaew, is opposite Wat Arun and boats leave every few minutes. You can get to Tha Tien on the Chao Phraya River Express boats from any other pier, or take a taxi to it. Buses that go near Tha Tien are ordinary buses 1, 25, 44, 47, 62 and 91 which stop on Maharat road. There are also plenty of Thonburi canal tours that go here.