on February 16, 2013
Wat Arun is one of the most familiar sights in Bangkok and it is the one that tends to dominate postcards and other souvenirs from the city. It is very well preserved and well worth a visit if you are in the area, even if temples are not really your things, because it is an impressive building and offers splendid views.The best way to get to the temple is by water taxi on the Chao Phrya river. We got it from the central pier, which is where the skytrain station is. There are a number of different taxis you can get. The locals use the orange taxi which is only 15 Baht per person (about 30p), although these ones aren’t as frequent or as relaxing as the blue tourist boats which are 40 Baht per person (about 80p). The blue ones are a lot less busy and have a guide who talks about the other attractions along the river banks on the way. Both taxis drop you off at the opposite side of the river from the temple so you’ll need to get the cross river taxi which costs three Baht per person (about 6p!) and are very regular.Wat is the name used for a collection of religious temples that is generally surrounded by a small wall with a number of gateway way entrances. The temples are, as you would imagine, very ornate and Wat Arun is no exception. The building is fantastic and gets even more so the closer you get, with lovely detailed frescos and layers upon layers of intricate stone work. It is nicknamed the temple of the dawn because it is the first place to catch the morning light. To be honest I thought it was going to be more colourful than it is; from a distance it actually looks fairly grey. But that is deceptive because when you get up close it is very colourful. Almost like a mosaic, there are hundreds of coloured tiles up and down the temple that add to the ornate look.You can’t go into the temple itself, but walking around it is cool enough. I’m not sure what they could put inside it to make the inside as impressive as the outside. You can however climb up the outside of it, which was one of the best things about it. You may think my choice of word (climb) was a strange one, but that is indeed what you need to do. There are stairs alright, but Western health and safety laws do not apply here, and they are some of the steepest stairs I have ever seen! I am what they call ‘vertically challenged’ and so I had to literally cling to the hand rails to haul myself up. It takes it out of you, that’s for sure, but the effort is so worth it because the views are spectacular. You can see the golden temples of the Royal Palace across the water and we spent ages just watching the traffic on the river below.On the way out of the temple there is a little market type thing that is packed with souvenirs and silks where you can barter for an absolute bargain. It is actually a good place to brush up your bartering skills before you jump into the huge and frenetic markets of central Bangkok!The temple costs 30 Baht for foreigners to enter; it is free for Thai nationals, but it seems to be visited by tourists in the most part. You need to consider what you are wearing before you visit, as you do with most temples. Ladies must have their shoulders and knees covered and skin tight trousers are not permitted unless you have a knee length shirt or dress over the top. You can borrow a shawl to cover your shoulders at the entrance for a small deposit. Men need to wear trousers that go at least below the knee and a t-shirt is acceptable.I would absolutely recommend a visit to Wat Arun, you can get some great photographs and views and is a great example of temple architecture.
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