Our first stop on our whirlwind tour of the temples of Bangkok was Wat Arun, located on the opposite side of the Chao Phraya river from the Grand Palace and Wat Po. We originally planned on going to Wat Po and the Grand Palace first and then taking a ferry across the river before heading back to our hotel, but we took the tourist water taxi, which stops at Wat Arun before heading to the dock for the Grand Palace. Also known as the Temple of Dawn, we were blown away from the intricate colored tile decoration covering the temple from top to bottom.
As we explored the multiple levels of the temple, we tried to imagine the amount of time it must have took the workers to construct and decorate this temple. It was built in the 1700s, with the porcelain decor and tower added in the 1800s. We found the temple complex to be a medium size, with the white decorated temple areas closed off to the public, while the buildings for general worship were not quite as magnificent.
The tallest temple structure had several levels with walkways all the way around. It was amazing to see the tile patterns and symmetry of the building as we ascended. From a distance, it is hard to see that the colorful tiles are actually recognizable objects and not just random colors. The boys really liked looking at all the pictures created by the porcelain tiles. We visited in early September, and it was very hot, even in the morning!
After walking around the magnificent white temples, we headed to the buildings for every day worship. The monks inside spoke English and were very friendly. The main draw of this part of the temple are the painted murals on the inside of the worship hall. They extend high up to the ceiling and illustrate historical events from the area. In order to go inside, we took shoes off and agreed not to take photos out of respect. The photo below is of one of the accessory halls that did not have worshipers inside or rules posted.
We spent 1 hour wandering around the grounds and had a wonderful time. In order to reach Wat Po and the Grand Palace, we took a ferry from a small dock north of the water taxi dock which takes people across the river for a nominal fee. Bring snacks, water, sunscreen and a hat, because there is nominal shade and not very many food options in the temple area. A stroller would not work here as there are many steps- we had a baby carrier that worked well. Even though it is on the other side of the river from many attractions in Bangkok, DO NOT miss exploring the amazing artistry in Wat Arun.