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The Monster of Concrete, Vientiane

At the NorthEastern end of the LaneXang Ave. arises a huge structure resembling the Arc de Triomphe. It is the Patuxay or Victory Gate of Vientiane. Built in 1962 (B.E. 2505), but never complete due to the country’s turbulent history. From a closer distance it appears even less impressive, like a monster of concrete.

Nowadays this place is used as leisure ground for the people of Vientiane and the seventh floor on top of the building serves as excellent viewpoint over the city.

That’s what it says on the sign. Even the Laos government admit it’s not pretty.

The last time we were in Vientiane on a whistle-stop RTW, we ticked off the sites, we  drove past the Victory Gate in a tuk-tuk. We had “done” it and we weren’t impressed.

When we arrived in Vientiane a couple of days ago we wanted to run away, this grim-looking city was such a huge shock after laid back Vang Vieng and beautiful Luang Prabang.

This time we actually got out of the tuk tuk at the Victory Gate for the kids to have a run around, there is a bit of a park there and a dodgy fountain. The kids love a fountain.

We discovered something cool, you can climb up the inside of the Victory monument. Climbing high things is my worst nightmare after mare’s milk tea ( see Travel Horror Stories), but to small wannabe daredevils it’s

The best thing ever, Mum!”

Top Things to do in Vientiane No 3: Victory Gate (AKA Concrete Monster or Vertical Runway)

My number 1 things to do in Vientiane is the Cope centre. If you haven’t read that post, click the link, you need to go there. Number 2 is  walking on the banks of the Mekong at sunset,  number 3 is a surprise entry by the Victory Gate. I love it when you don’t expect much and something turns out to be so cool, don’t you?

We’re travelling without a guide book, making it up as we go along, we had no idea you could climb the concrete monster. Would you believe it’s a giant hollow, half finished, gift shop?

Vientiane Laos Victory Gate

There are dozens of market stalls inside, on each level, selling the usual souvenirs. There were hardly any Western tourists around, most visitors were Lao.  Groups of orange robed monks haggled over T shirts and families posed for photos beneath the concrete monster. Lao has totally stolen our hearts and the Lao people are the main reason for that.

The ascent wasn’t as precarious as I’d imagined, you’d find it pretty hard to fall off the thing and the view from the top was spectacular.

Victory Gate Vientiane Laos

They call it the Vertical Runway because it was built with concrete intended for the new airport, so the story goes.

Add the Victory Gate to your list of things to do in Vientiane, particularly with children. If Laos isn’t on your list, add that, too, it’s amazing.

Walking around the city yesterday we passed endless beautiful temples and a couple of museums, we have plenty more to do while we wait here for our Thai visas to be ready. This travel thing isn’t all glamour, there is a fair bit of hanging around and paperwork to do.

Yet again, Laos has surprised us, we love that.

COPE Visitor Centre Vientiane Laos. Essential Visit.
Life is Never Easy. Real Life Family Travel.


Friday 19th of October 2018

Vientiane seems to get a bit of a bad rap, but I decided to have a few days of downtime in Vientiane, and I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere to recharge before heading further afield in Laos. I really liked this monument - perhaps even better than the Arc de Triumphe which is was modelled on.


Friday 18th of May 2018

You have so many ads, I can barely click on any links with the constant reloading... its awful.

Alyson Long for World Travel Family

Friday 18th of May 2018

I'm sorry you feel that way Sammy. Out of 150,000 visits every month, only 2 people have ever complained. But I hear you. The ads are placed by a 3rd party, not by us, and they select the best places to put them. The ads you see will be based on your browsing history and location. I can't actually see any ads on this page ( probably as I'm in Romania). So it's hard for me to judge what people are seeing. But I have passed your complaint on to Mediavine to see if they can fix this. Thanks for telling me.

Jo Carroll

Tuesday 3rd of September 2013

*sighs* I've such wonderful memories of my trip to Laos - so thanks for this.

nomadic family life


Creator of World Travel Family

Alyson is the creator of World Travel Family travel blog and is a full-time traveller, blogger, and travel writer. A lifetime of wanderlust and now over 7 years on the road, 50+ countries allowed the creation of this website, for you. She has a BSc and worked in pathology before entering the travel arena and creating this website. World Travel Family Travel Blog has been helping you travel more, better, and further since 2012, when Alyson and James first had this life changing idea. On this site you can find endless travel information, tips, and guides plus how to travel, how to fund travel, and how to start your own travel blog.