Patuxay Victory Monument
Patuxay is a large war memorial and park that lies at the heart of Vientiane. It sits at the end of Lane Xang Avenue, and is easily one of Vientiane’s most iconic structures.
In a city without skyscrapers, Patuxay is the closest thing Vientiane has to a skyline. The impressive arch is found in the center of Vientiane at the end of Lane Xang Avenue, facing the Presidential Palace. The monument and surrounding park are a great place to visit, especially during the evening and on weekends when lots of families visit. Climbing to the observation level on top of Patuxay will reward you with a panoramic view of the city.
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- Patuxay Park is free. The fee to go to the top is 5,000 kip.
- The view from the top of Patuxay offers a 360 degree view of the city.
- Opening hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
From a distance, Patuxay may look uninspiring, but it lies at the centre of Vientiane’s government and diplomatic district. Walking or cycling along Vientiane’s grandest avenue between the Presidential Palace and Patuxay, will give a genuine feel for the heart of the city.
A Bit of History
The name Patuxay translates to “Victory Gate.” It was built in the 1960’s as a memorial to the heroes killed fighting for independence from France, as well as from the nation’s earlier occupiers, Siam and Japan. The monument was built using funds from the U.S. government and it’s sometimes nicknamed the “vertical runway,” as the cement used was intended for the construction of a new airport.
Taking It All In
At first glance Patuxay appears to be an out and out imitation of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Although clearly inspired by the French version, it differs in several ways that are only apparent when you get up close. Patuxay features four arches, facing North, South, East and West. The four corner towers and fifth central tower that crown the arch symbolise the five Buddhist principles of thoughtful amiability, flexibility, honesty, honour and prosperity.
Patuxay was designed to pay homage to Lao national culture and traditions. Walk beneath the arches and you’ll see richly decorated walls and ceilings depicting the Hindu Gods Brahma and Vishnu, as well as the mythological creatures kinnaree and the three headed elephant Erawan. Exterior embellishments feature both Buddhist religious symbols such as lotus leaves and the stupa-shaped towers, and statues of animist kinnari (half-female and half-bird figures) and nagas (dragons).
The width of each side is 24 meters forming a 24×24 square. The height from the ground to the highest peak of the highest spire is 49 meters. Inside the pillars is a staircase that leads to the top floor. For 5,000 kip you can climb to the top of the Victory Gate and enjoy unobstructed views of Vientiane’s low-rise buildings and temples. As well as the view, you’ll also find souvenir shops and vendors selling cold drinks.
Beyond the gate itself, there is more to see at Patuxay Park. The walkway leading out from the monument is lined with plants and benches, and a pair of large fountains. There are several floral gardens that are nicely cared for. The park is a popular spot for locals having an evening stroll around dusk.
At the far end of the park there is a musical fountain donated by China and a Peace Gong from Indonesia.
Getting to Patuxay
Patuxay is located at the northern end of Lane Xang Avenue in the center of Vientiane, roughly halfway between the riverside tourist area and Pha That Luang. It can be reached on foot or by bicycle from many of the town’s attractions. Tuk-tuks outside Joma and near the tourist hotels will charge approximately 25,000 kip to take you there. You should have no trouble finding the site on your own, from the Presidential Palace at the base of Lane Xang, look down the road and you should see the structure in it all it’s glory. The distance between the Presidential Palace and Patuxy is roughly 1km.
Patuxay is open Monday to Friday from 8 am until 4.30 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 8 am until 5 pm. Admission to climb to the top is 5,000 Kip per person. Admission to the park is free.
Patuxay is not a far walk from Morning Market and Vientiane’s main bus station. It’s worth walking or cycling there along Lane Xang, which is the main avenue through the heart of Vientiane. Also nearby is the gold covered stupa at Pha That Luang, which is a kilometre and a half further east. Consider visiting both on the same day as they are Vientiane’s most iconic sites. You can very easily walk between the two. If traveling from the riverside area you might want to rent a bicycle for the day. The Vietnam Embassy is also very near Patuxay, which is convenient for anyone getting a visa for Vietnam. Nearby restaurants include Joma Cafe and a Scandinavian Bakery.
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Photo: Patuxay Victory Gate by Tim Wang / CC BY 2.0