Patuxai: Laos’ Arc de Triomphe

Are you looking for must-see attractions on your personalised Laos holiday? Laos is a fascinating, beautiful country, which is a staple on the backpacker trail. There is an abundance of sights on offer here and visitors can enjoy a wealth of activities during their trip, but one stand-out feature is Patuxai. Penetrating the skyline of the charming capital city of Vientiane, this formidable statue is often referred to as Laos’ Arc de Triomphe.

Visiting Patuxai

Located in the heart of Vientiane, Patuxai is a historic war monument constructed between 1957 and 1968. The monument is dedicated to those who fought in the battle for independence when Laos was fighting to break away from French rule and is seen as a sign of victory.

The monument, which is the centrepiece of Patuxai Park, features intricate detailing and is a very distinctive feature which leaps out from the Vientiane skyline. The upper level of the monument boasts five towers, each of which is decorated ornately. These five towers symbolise the five Buddhist principles: kindness, flexibility, honour, honesty and prosperity. The body of the arch is embellished with well-known symbols of Buddhism, including lotus leaves and statues of dragons and kinnari (these are creatures made from half female bodies and half bird bodies). The shape of the monument and its location at the top of one of the city’s most prominent avenues mean that many visitors compare it to Paris’ Arc de Triomphe.

The exterior of Patuxai is impressive in itself, but don’t restrict your visit to a gaze from afar, as this means that you will miss out on marvelling at the splendour of the internal walls. The interior is adorned with precious metals and it features a series of paintings depicting gods and goddesses and symbolic animals, such as elephants.

Planning your visit

You won’t need long to visit Patuxai but bear in mind that this is a very popular tourist attraction, so it’s best to avoid peak times. If you want to enjoy amazing views of the city, you can climb up to the roof of the monument for a small fee. It’s worth reading a guidebook or taking a tour to learn more about the monument and its historical significance. A visit can easily be incorporated into an exploratory trip around Vientiane and you can also enjoy a stroll around the park. Head to the north of the park to find the famous Peace Gong, which was donated by Indonesia when Laos was named the world’s most peaceful country.