The city of Pattaya in Thailand is best known for its go-go clubs, massage parlours and girlie bars. The resort is a popular sex tourism destination due to its huge neon-lit red light district. However, in the wake of July's military coup, the city is trying to clean up its image.

Colonel Suppatee Boonkrong, acting head of Pattaya City Police, told the Bangkok Post he was aiming to totally eradicate street prostitution. "I want to completely change the image of Pattaya from being sin city to a friendly town that everyone can enjoy," he said.

The authorities have begun carrying out nightly raids in the red light district, arresting prostitutes, pickpockets and confidence tricksters.

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A member of the tourist police speaks to a suspected transsexual prostitute in the red light districtGetty
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Transsexuals suspected of being prostitutes give their details while being detained, before heading to the police stationGetty
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A Thai transsexual voices her disapproval after being detained during a clamp-down on sex tourism and prostitution in PattayaGetty
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Transsexuals suspected of being prostitutes are driven to the police stationGetty
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Thai transsexual women wait to pay their fines in a police station in PattayaGetty
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Members of the tourist police patrol a bar area near Walking Street, Pattaya's main nightlife area. The Foreign Tourist Police Assistants (FTPA) of Pattaya is a volunteer organisation providing assistance to visitors who have fallen victim to petty crime, as well as helping the Thai police deal with foreigners suspected of illegal activitiesGetty
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A woman is apprehended by police in the red light district in Pattaya, Thailand. Pattaya is tackling sex tourism and crime as the city attempts to clean up its imageGetty

The manager of Sisters, a health counselling centre for transgendered people, told the Bangkok Post that police were targeting ladyboy sex workers. But Colonel Boonkrong claimed: "We are arresting anyone for whom we have evidence of trying to trade sex for money. [Transsexual women] happen to be the majority of people we arrest."

In theory, prostitution is illegal in Thailand but in practice it is tolerated and regulated. Sex tourism contributes a vast amount of revenue to the country's economy.

Once a sleepy fishing town, Pattaya started catering for the needs of off-duty American GIs during the Vietnam War. Package – and sex – tourists followed and the city's beaches are now lined with hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and the seemingly endless massage parlours, cabaret venues and seedy bars.

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Pole dancers advertise a go-go bar in the red light districtGetty
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A Thai bar girl grabs men, trying to lure then into a bar in the red light districtGetty
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Thai bar girls tout for customers outside a venue in the red light district of PattayaGetty
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A Thai transsexual woman stands in the red light district of PattayaGetty
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A Thai police officer listens to his radio during a nightly sweep in the red light districtGetty
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A transsexual woman from Laos is round up by police after being caught allegedly stealing money from a foreign clientGetty
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A Thai prostitute sits at the Pattaya police station after being arrested for allegedly stealing money and other personal items from a Chinese touristGetty