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.
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?
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.
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.