Escaping the congestion and chaos of Bangkok is quite simple, and a must for anyone who wants a truly memorable Thailand experience. The surrounding provinces and cities make for a comfortably paced day trip, or an easy getaway for a few days. However you spend your time, you're sure to encounter amazing scenery, interesting culture, and unforgettable adventure.
Only 50 km (31 miles) west of Bangkok is a small haven for those seeking enlightenment. The province of Nakhon Pathom has the tallest Buddha monument in the world, Phra Pathom Chedi.
Travel a little farther west and you'll be in Kanchanaburi, with its mixture of tranquil scenery, war museums, and temples. Kanchanaburi is most known for the Bridge on the River Kwai, but there's plenty to keep you occupied. If you're an explorer at heart, this is a great starting-off point for visiting national parks, rafting, hiking, and riding elephants.
If you're interested in seeing a more traditional aspect of Thailand, head down to Damnoen Saduak. Here you'll be surrounded by the colors and smells of a market while drifting along in a small, wooden boat. The floating market primarily caters to tourists, so most of the vendors sell souvenirs and produce.
History buffs and Buddhists should travel a bit farther south to the seaport town of Phetchaburi for its wats and palaces. Don't be frightened of the monkeys that roam the streets here.
Don't have time to travel the entire country? The peaceful grounds of Muang Boran, an outdoor park-museum, is shaped roughly like Thailand and displays replicas of important monuments from all parts of the country.
For seafood served Thai style, head to Samut Songkram, where you'll be able to eat your fill of clams and other fruit of the sea along the Gulf of Thailand.
If you have more time, check out Sangklaburi. Thai, Mon, Karen, and Bangladeshi communities flourish in this city near the Myanmar border. Many people who venture to Sangklaburi go on trekking tours and visit the Thai border town of Three Pagodas Pass.