In the heart of bustling Bangkok, the captivating Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, stands tall on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River.
As one of Thailand’s most iconic landmarks, this majestic temple is a sight to behold, especially during the magical moments of sunset.
In this travel guide, we’ll take you on a journey across the river, to the best vantage points, and reveal the must-visit places to witness the breathtaking sunset view of Wat Arun.
Wat Arun: The Temple of Dawn
- Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is a famous Buddhist temple located in Bangkok, Thailand.
- Situated on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, it is named after the Hindu god Aruna, the god of dawn.
- The main attraction is its central prang, adorned with colorful porcelain, standing between 66.8 to 86 meters in height.
- Wat Arun’s architecture represents Mount Meru, the center of the world in Buddhist cosmology.
- King Taksin envisioned the temple in 1768, and it is one of Thailand’s oldest standing Buddhist temples.
- Wat Arun is open from 8 am to 6 pm so if you would like to explore the temple before heading to other vantage points during sunset, you have plenty of time to do so.
Why Wat Arun is the Perfect Sunset Scene in Bangkok
- Despite being called the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun’s true magic unfolds during sunset, where the sky ignites in a palette of golden hues, creating a sight like no other.
- As the sun descends on the horizon of Bangkok, its rays bathe the city’s skyline in breathtaking colors. And because it is positioned on the west bank of the Chao Phraya river, it makes a perfect backdrop for Wat Arun’s awe-inspiring silhouette.
- Being one of Thailand’s most famous landmarks, witnessing the sunset at Wat Arun provides a sense of cultural and historical significance.
- The temple’s colorfully decorated spires reflecting in the water, combined with the changing hues of the sky, provide an ideal backdrop for photography enthusiasts.
- As the night unfolds, you will witness a stunning Wat Arun dressed up in lights illuminating the Bangkok skyline.
The Best Places to Witness the Sunset at Wat Arun
There are two main places where you can watch Wat Arun during sunset – from rooftop bars and cafes on the east bank of Chao Phraya River, basically the opposite side from Wat Arun; and from a cruise along the Chao Phraya river. Best to position yourself about an hour before the sun starts its descent.
1. Rooftop Bars and Restaurants
For an elevated view of the breathtaking sunset, head to one of Bangkok’s rooftop bars and cafes located on the east bank of the river. Sip on a refreshing cocktail as you watch the sky change colors and witness Wat Arun’s ethereal transformation.
To reach the east bank, you have several options:
- By boat: If you are coming from Wat Arun, you can take a boat to take you across the river from Wat Arun pier to Tha Tien Pier (Pier 8).
- By bus: Take a bus to Tha Tien Pier then you can walk to your preferred bar/restaurant in about 5 minutes or less.
- By taxi: You can also take a taxi directly to the bar/restaurant of your preference. These establishments are located in a famous neighborhood so most taxi drivers should be familiar.
- By foot: If you are coming from a nearby location such as The Grand Palace or Wat Pho, these bars/restaurants should be accessible by foot. Wat Pho is less than 5 minutes walk while The Grand Palace shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes.
For the best vantage points, here are some of the rooftop bars and restaurants in Bangkok that offer the best sunset view of the Wat Arun temple:
- The Deck by Arun Residence
- View ARUN Rooftop Restaurant and Bar
- Rooftop Bar at Sala Rattanakosin
- Above Riva at Riva Arun Bangkok
- Eagle Nest Bar
- Chakrabongse Palace
Visitors should be aware that prices at rooftop bars and restaurants in Bangkok can be on the higher side, as they offer premium views.
Additionally, it’s advisable to make reservations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure a table at these sought-after rooftop bars.
2. Cruise Along the Chao Phraya River
Take a leisurely cruise along the Chao Phraya River, where you’ll be treated to unparalleled vistas of Wat Arun at sunset. The gentle sway of the boat and the river’s shimmering waters add to the enchantment of the experience.
The average price of the sunset cruise is around 599-700 baht (US$ 17-20) and will take around 2 hours to complete. Here are some of the river cruises that you can book to get the best view of the temple:
- Chao Phraya Princess Cruise in Bangkok
- Chao Phraya White Orchid Cruise in Bangkok
- Royal Princess Dinner Cruise in Bangkok
- Meridian Dinner Cruise in Bangkok
- Chao Phraya Cruise in Bangkok
Please be aware that prices and availability may vary, so it’s advisable to check the websites for the latest information and make reservations in advance to secure your spot.
Where to Stay Near Wat Arun for the Perfect Sunset
If you’re seeking an unforgettable experience of witnessing the stunning sunset at Wat Arun from your hotel room, staying nearby can add an extra touch of magic to your Thailand trip.
Fortunately, there are some fantastic accommodation options available in the vicinity, offering panoramic views and easy access to this iconic temple.
Here are some of the best places to stay on the east bank across the stunning Wat Arun:
- Sala Arun – Book via Agoda | Booking.com
- Arun Residence – Book via Agoda | Booking.com
- Sala Rattanakosin Bangkok – Book via Agoda | Booking.com
- ARUN Riverside Bangkok – Book via Agoda | Booking.com
- RALPH Bangkok – Book via Agoda | Booking.com
- Riva Arun Bangkok – Book via Agoda | Booking.com
Additional Tips for an Unforgettable Experience
Witnessing the sunset at Wat Arun is a magical experience that requires some preparation to make the most of this breathtaking moment.
Here are some tips to ensure an unforgettable Wat Arun sunset viewing:
- Arrive Early: To secure a good spot and enjoy the temple’s beauty in daylight, arrive at your preferred vantage point at least an hour before sunset.
- Check the Sunset Time: Before your visit, check the sunset time for the specific day you plan to be at Wat Arun. Sunsets can vary throughout the year, so make sure you’re there on time to witness the magical moment.
- Dress Comfortably: Wear comfortable clothing and footwear to navigate the area with ease. Remember that you’ll be outdoors, so dress accordingly for the weather.
- Respect the Temple: If you are planning to visit Wat Arun itself, keep in mind that Wat Arun is a place of worship and cultural significance. Be respectful of the temple and its surroundings, refrain from loud noises, and follow any rules or guidelines provided by the temple staff.
- Bring a Camera: Don’t forget to bring your camera or smartphone to capture the stunning sunset views. The changing colors of the sky against the temple’s intricate design create fantastic photo opportunities.
- Stay Hydrated: The Bangkok weather can be hot and humid, so make sure to stay hydrated throughout your visit. Carry a water bottle with you to keep refreshed during the evening.
- Check for Special Events: Sometimes, Wat Arun may host special events or ceremonies during sunset. Check if any events are scheduled on the day of your visit to enhance your experience.
- Enjoy the Moment: Finally, take a moment to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the sunset at Wat Arun. Put away distractions, breathe in the ambiance, and let the serene atmosphere fill your senses.