Thailand has long been as famous for its "anything goes" tourist hedonism as for its natural beauty, Buddhist culture and excellent cuisine.

But as two young female visitors discovered on the holiday island of Phuket, the days of Thai authorities turning a blind eye to the excesses of Western tourists are over.

The women, an American and an Austrian, were each fined and given a stern lesson about Thai culture after a video emerged of them leaning topless from a vehicle during New Year celebrations on a packed street.

The Thai junta is pursuing a crackdown on scantily clad tourists as part of a "morality cleanse" begun by the ruling generals.


Police began a hunt for the tourists after the clip - of them in a vehicle in Patong flashing their breasts as they doused themselves with water - went viral on social media.

The women, named as Adrianna Martin, 20, from America, and Camille Prymann, 25, from Austria, were tracked to a guest house and charged with indecent public exposure.

Each was fined 500 baht ($20.55) and given a lesson in Thai culture and morality by a female police officer.

"We explained to them why such behaviour was inappropriate and charged them with public nudity," said Lieutenant-Colonel Sutthichai Thianpho, of the Patong police department.

In November, Phuket city police forced three sunbathers lying in a park in bikinis to put on more clothes.

Yet while Thailand is determined to crack down on the display of too much skin by Western visitors, prostitution continues to flourish in tourists spots such as Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya.

General Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister and junta chief, said: "Foreign tourists should not have a perception that they can come to Thailand to commit illegal activities as often portrayed in the movies."

However, Prayuth had to apologise after he appeared to suggest tourists in bikinis could be putting themselves at risk - unless they were not attractive. "Can they be safe in bikinis ... unless they are not beautiful?" he asked. Amid international condemnation, he quickly apologised and said he was simply urging visitors to "be careful".