Thais cram onto buses and trains as they begin annual Songkran new year getaway

Thais have began their annual new year getaway, packing bus and railway stations.

Locals crammed into coaches and it was standing room only on carriages travelling from the capital Bangkok into the provinces. Many residents return to their home towns to celebrate the Songkran festival - where people splash water on each other - with family.

The annual event starting today until businesses re-open on April 17 attracts tourists from around the world who take part in mass water fights. It began hundreds of years ago as a celebration of Buddha images with villagers sprinkling each other with water for good luck as they welcomed in the coming rainy season.

But in recent years it has developed into a booze-fulled water fight festival that attracts many holidaymakers and backpackers. Police and government officials desperate to protect the country’s image and contain the resulting chaos - that often leads to a surge in drink driving, road deaths and sexual assaults - have vowed to jail for up to five years anyone caught ‘’behaving provocatively’’ or posting the content on social media.

They said a team of officers will be monitoring social media for anybody who is dressed to raunchily or performing sexy dances.