Naturally, you will expect to find Buddhist temples wherever you are in Thailand, and Hat Yai is no exception. Hat Yai is home to one of the largest reclining Buddhas in the world at Hat Yai Nai temple.
If you've seen spectacular temples elsewhere in Thailand you may be a little disappointed with those in Hat Yai. Some temples in other parts of the country really do have a 'wow' factor, but I can't think of any in Hat Yai that will take your breath away.
'Na Zha' Temple
LI-NA ZHA: Trickster God Boy of Childish Pranks and Tantrums.
Even if you are well-versed in Godly ways, it's just possible his story could stretch your credulity. Formerly a monstrous Immortal with three heads, eight arms and nine eyes, LI-NAZHA was sent down to Earth by the JADE-EMPEROR to subdue a plague of demons.
The Thai temples best known to foreigners are probably the ancient temples of Ayuthaya and Sukothai; the large, ornate temples of Bangkok and the central region; and maybe places such as Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai.
Southern Thailand is different. In the deep south there are apparently more mosques than temples. There are also significant populations of ethnic Chinese Thais, especially in Hat Yai.
Chinese temples are quite different to Thai temples and many tend to be quite small. I find it interesting walking along to find tiny Chinese temples sandwiched in between hotels, shops and other buildings.
As well as these tiny places of worship, there are also large Chinese temples in town. Ancestor worship is a large part of the Chinese belief system. For this reason you will often see small fires, or sometimes furnaces, outside the front of the temples.
Chinese temple candles - Click for larger image You will also find shops in Hat Yai selling material possessions made out of paper. These range from paper clothes and mobile phones to cars (expensive cars, of course) and detached houses with security guards standing outside.
The temple furnaces act as celestial mail boxes and the burning of these items sends them to deceased ancestors.
Also in the shops selling paper goods you will find bank notes issued by The Bank of Hell. Apparently, when Christian missionaries first went to China they told the locals they would go to hell if they didn't convert to Christianity.
The Chinese didn't fully understand the meaning and assumed hell was where you go after you die, regardless of whether you lived a good life or a bad one. Bank notes from hell are issued in large denominations.