Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Patouxai — Vientiane’s Arc de Triomphe

Patouxai

Of all the cultural landmarks that you’ll come across during your exploration of Vientiane one of the more interesting ones—Patouxai—doesn’t seem to fit with such landmarks as Wat Si Saket, That Louang, and That Dam.  

On the other hand, it definitely stands up—pun intended—with the best of the other landmarks to see while in Vientiane. Its commanding presence at the end of Lane Xang Avenue might make visitors think of the Arc de Triomphe and I suppose given the vestiges of French culture in Vientiane from coffee to baguettes one might think just that.

Popularly known as anusawali (Lao for monument), this massive concrete structure located in a roundabout at the end of Lane Xang Avenue, was built in the late 1950s as a war memorial.

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Supposedly the structure was completed with money donated by the US government for the construction of a new airport, which has prompted many people to jokingly refer to the structure as a “vertical runway.” 

Nonetheless, it is definitely worth visiting despite some of the negative criticism it has received. The best time to visit would be in the morning and if you approach from the south (after having visited Wat Si Saket) you will have the best view for taking photographs (you can walk out to a median strip for a great shot of it).

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