Many people are surprised that Vientiane is in fact a capital city as it exudes a relaxed atmosphere and small town charm. An eclectic mix of colonial-French buildings and ancient temples along with colorful markets characterizes Laos’ capital. A morning walk around the centre areas is possible; however the city's streets are often unpaved and dusty.
Vientiane does have a few worthy sites but the most enjoyable approach to explore the city is to simply wander around; take a peek at the markets or visit some of the many temples where friendly resident monks will be delighted to chat. At dusk, almost everyone heads toward the Mekong river bank to watch the spectacular sunsets. Many small bars along the riverbank welcome visitors to gaze across to Thailand.
Due to recent isolation from the rest of the world, Laos retains some elements of its colonial heritage. Most surprisingly, the capital is populated with a high density of good restaurants and bars. Vientiane has international food suitable for almost any palate; meanwhile the local spicy delicacies are also popular.
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Patuxai, literally meaning Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph, formerly the Anousavary or Anosavari Monument, known by the French as Monument Aux Morts) is a war monument in the centre ofVientiane, Laos, which was built between 1957 and 1968. The Patuxai is dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence fromFrance. In romanising the name from the Laotian language, it is variously transliterated as Patuxai, Patuxay, Patousai and Patusai. It is also called Patuxai Arch or the Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane as it resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. However, it is typically Laotian in design, decorated with mythological creatures such as the kinnari (half-female, half-bird).