The Patuxai Monument Makes Vientiane Like a Miniature France
Vientiane is a pretty city that curves along the Mekong river. One aspect of its beauty is the large amount of mature trees. There are many temples and wats in Vientiane. Centrally located is the Patuxai. It is a large attractive structure that can be seen from many points in the city.
The grounds around the monument include a small park and fountain. It is quite picturesque and makes for a nice area to go for a stroll or bike ride.
The Patuxai was built in the 1960’s with American funds. The cement was supplied to build a new airport runway, but the Lao government decided to build a monument instead. It is sometimes referred to as the “vertical runway” because of this.
It is a dedication for those who fought in the struggle for independence from France. Although it resembles the Arc de Triomphe in France, it is decorated with many Lao features.
The Patuxai is situated on Lan Xang Boulevard also known in Lao as “Thanon Luang”, meaning grand avenue or street. It has been dubbed the “Champs Elyse’es of the East”. You can go up to the top of it to get a view of the city.
Great Food And Shopping
In the town center there are many small shops and restaurants. Some of the food we have eaten here has been amazing. We have had delicious pumpkin soup, omelets, crepes, and many Indian food dishes. They have some incredible bakeries with breads and pastries. There are many French style restaurants as well as a place called the Scandinavian bakery that we highly recommend. The picture to the left is a banana crepe with caramel sauce and ice cream. It was like a plate of heaven.
We can’t forget to mention the famous Beer Lao. We have been hearing travelers talking about it all over Thailand. Everyone seems to know about it in Southeast Asia. It is brewed at a government brewery here in Vientiane. Jack tried it and said it was just okay, nothing special. Then he found out they make a Beer Lao Dark. He rates it as quite good, like a dark Ale.
Vientianne Markets And Shopping
The shops have some beautiful items. We thought the stuff here would be very similar to Thailand, but we have seen a lot of different items. Some beautiful hand woven silk scarves with embroidery, and unique clothing. There appears to be a lot of antiques, like chests, vases, old metal weighing scales and musical instruments.
We went through two markets in Vientiane. The first one is called the Morning market or Talat Sao. It is a shoppers paradise. It goes on everyday and has permanent vendors. In addition to fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken and pigs, there is a variety of crafts and goods from every part of the country.
The other market we visited was called Talat Khua Din. It is not geared towards tourists. The majority of it is produce. Simple structures hold up tarps overhead. The vendors sit on the ground and have their produce spread out on woven mats. Most vendors just stared at us as we walked through, probably wondering why tourists would come there.