Vientiane’s answer to Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, Patuxai (Victory Monument) towers above this low-rise city in a spectacular mixture of architectural styles: part brutalist, part Napoleonic, part Lao. Besides the elaborate artworks in the monument itself and the views from the top of the structure, it’s home to a wealth of souvenir stalls.
There is a small charge, payable in cash, to enter Patuxai and climb to the top, which offers sweeping views across the city, Laos, and Thailand. While it’s easy enough to reach independently and doesn’t require a guide, it’s worth joining a tour or hiring a private guide or songthaew (shared truck taxi) pickup to maximize your time. The majority of city tours, both half-day and full-day, stop at Patuxai and allow time to climb.
Things to Know Before You Go
- In a city that’s short on monuments, Patuxai stands out as a symbol of Vientiane: a selfie here is a must for Instagrammers.
- At 180 feet (55 meters) high, Patuxai remains one of the tallest buildings in Vientiane. It is taller than the original Arc de Triomphe.
- The monument has five towers representing five Buddhist virtues and the five principles of coexistence among nations.
- The top of the monument is only accessible by stairs.
How to Get There
About a mile (1.5 kilometers) from Nam Phou Square, Patuxai monument is centrally located and easy to find whether you’re walking, cycling, or riding a tuk-tuk or songthaew. It stands about a mile (1.5 kilometers) east of the Mekong on Vientiane’s major boulevard, Lane Xang Avenue, at one end of Patuxai Park.
When to Get There
The Victory Monument is open from morning to afternoon seven days a week, but unfortunately not open for sunset viewing. Visiting late in the day does, however, allow you to soak up the sunset social scene in Patuxai Park. For the best views, try to visit on a clear day, most common in the dry season between November and January.
The Vertical Runway
A tribute to the Lao who died in long-gone wars, Laos built Patuxai, also known as Victory Gate and Gate of Triumph, with cement that the US had handed over for use in building an airport in the 1960s. That history has given it the affectionate name “the vertical runway.”