A few weeks ago, we went to Vientiane in Laos for a visa run and a 6-months tourist visa for Thailand. We stayed in town for 3 days and did not get to visit much. The only monument we got to visit in this dull capital was the Patuxai, also known as the Victory Gate.
Patuxai comes from the words Patu meaning “Gate” and Xai meaning “Victory”. It was designed by the architect Mr. Tham Sayasthsena, a Laotian citizen. The gate was built between 1957 and 1968 as a monument dedicated to those fallen during the fight for independence from France. The construction was funded by the USA. The money was originally given to be used to build an airport for the capital but the government decided it was much more clever to build a monument with that money. As a consequence, the monument is sometimes referred to as the “vertical runway“.
Ironically, the monument looks like the French ‘Arc de Triomphe’ from a distance. However, when closer, it looks more like an unfinished ‘monster of concrete’ (as written on a sign on one of the towers) with Buddhist ornaments and Naga statues.
It is possible to climb all the way to the top for a small fee. The inside of the monument is a giant souvenir shop and the rooftop is actually in a poor condition with broken signboards and electric wires on the floor. The panoramic view of Vientiane however is really nice.
Overall, I was really not impressed by the Patuxai. No one knows if it will ever be completed despite the government repeatedly authorizing new funds.