The most famous landmark in Bangkok city is the Royal Grand Palace which we see often plastered on post cards and magazines. However, the pictures do not do justice to the actual sight of the Royal Grand Palace itself. Pictures fail to grasp the epic size of the grounds and the many intricate details that are to be found in every nook and corner. The same is true of Wat Arun or better known as the Temple of Dawn. Bangkok sightseeing tours will normally include these two venues on their tour itinerary. The tour of Bangkok city includes a visit to these places either by a river cruise on the Chao Phraya or an accompanied tour with guide in hand to explain the history and meanings of some of the sculptures and murals located in these two places.
To go sightseeing in Bangkok, especially when heading out to the Royal Grand Palace and Wat Arun, it is advisable to bring water along with you as these grounds are really huge and requires a lot of walking. The two places are located fairly close to the Khaosan area which is a haven for budget tourist and local Thais alike. The Royal Grand Palace and Wat Arun are wedged in between the mighty Chao Phraya and the high-end and budget district of Bangkok city. Transportation in Bangkok city is very convenient. If you not attached to any Bangkok City tours and making out on your own to these two places, there are plenty of buses, minivans, taxis and the tuk-tuks to bring you there.
When visiting the Royal Grand Palace and temple grounds, it is advisable for tourists and visitors to dress appropriately. Especially in the Grand Palace where no shorts or skirts are permitted in the vicinity, tourists can get help at the Palace information centre where suitable long skirts and pants are available free of charge to visitors who would like to gain entry. There is not much to see from the outside walls of the Palace but once you step into the guard entranceway the beauty of the place becomes apparent. The temple in the grounds are highly intricate in sculptures, murals and designs. There is a mural depicting the story of the previous rulers meticulously drawn section by section. In the temple itself, photography or recordings are not allowed. Many Thais come here to venerate and offer prayers in the Royal Temple. Some sections of the Place are closed to the public but most places are open for viewing. During ceremonial occasions, His Royal Highness the King of Thailand will make his inaugural speech from the balcony of the Grand Palace. The gigantic statues of the temple guards are a photographer’s dream and is the most popular spot for tourist to take pictures.
A little further down is the famous Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn. The temple got its name from the sight that is unbelievable when the sun rises over the Chao Phraya. The temple glistens and reflects the light of the rising sun from the many sculptured murals on the surface of the temple walls. Words alone cannot describe the sheer beauty and magnificence of the sight. This temple is also accessible by boat, so if you are taking a river cruise in Bangkok or a river ferry on the Chao Phraya, it will bring you directly to the temple entrance. There are several pavilions on the temple grounds where you could sit and take a rest, and since the temple sits right next to the river there are several piers where you can feed the fish in the river as a slight distraction from all the walking. There are several stupas in this
temple and you can climb the steep stairs of each depending on your stamina level. The view from the top is the ultimate reward. Each level and stupa consists of different sculptures and motifs. Each painstakingly hand done piece by piece. No doubt some of the statues and ceramic pieces are of ancient Chinese origin, it was believed that they were salvaged from the Chinese ships who were using them as ballast but put to good use as the temple decorations. There are so many interesting things to see in this temple alone that it could take you almost a whole day especially if you like taking pictures. The design of the temple is a little between Chinese and Thai architecture and the best view of the whole temple is taken from across the river. A perfectly good shot can be taken in the evening before the sunsets’ or early in the morning while the sun is rising. A night picture shot is just as good and the ultimate is if you have booked a Bangkok river tour that includes the Bangkok dinner cruise where you get to enjoy a sumptuous dinner and have a great night tour of the city from the river with all the glory of Bangkok city and it’s temples in the light.