The Patuxai ( Thanon Lan Xang; admission US$0.12; open 8am-5pm daily), a large monument reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, is known by a variety of names.
The official Lao name is approximately equivalent to Arch (patuu, also translated as door or gate) of Triumph" (xai, from the Sanskrit jaya or victory). Unlike its Paris namesake, the Patuxai boasts four, rather than two, archways. It was built in the 1960s with US-purchased cement that was supposed to have been used for the construction of a new airport. Hence foreign residents sometimes refer to it as 'the vertical runway';
Since its purpose' was to commemorate the Lao who had died in pre-Revolutionary wars, current Lao maps typically label it 'Old Monument' in contrast to the newer Unknown Soldiers Memorial.
This huge arch is within walking distance of the' town centre. From a distance, it looks very much like its French source of inspiration. Up close, however, the Lao design is revealed. The bas-relief on the sides and the temple-like ornamentation along the top and cornices are typically Lao. A stairway leads to the top levels of the monument, where you can look out over the city.