For Malay sailors, Nāgas are a type of dragon with many heads; in Thailand and Java, the naga is a wealthy underworld deity. In Laos they are beaked water serpents.
In a Khmer legend, the Nāgas were a reptilian race of beings who possessed a large empire or kingdom in the Pacific Ocean region. See Kaliya. The Nāga King’s daughter married an Indian Brahmana named Kaundinya, and from their union sprang the Cambodian people. Therefore still Cambodians say that they are “Born from the Nāga”.
The Seven-Headed Nāga serpents depicted as statues on Cambodian temples, such as Angkor Wat, apparently represent the seven races within Naga society, which has a mythological, or symbolic, association with “the seven colors of the rainbow”. Furthermore, Cambodian Nāga possess numerological symbolism in the number of their heads. Odd-headed Nāga symbolise the Male Energy, Infinity, Timelessness, and Immortality. This is because, numerologically, all odd numbers come from One (1). Even-headed Nāga are said to be “Female, representing Physicality, Mortality, Temporality, and the Earth.”
Nāga are believed to live in the Laotian stretch of the Mekong river or estuaries. Lao mythology maintains that the Nāga are the protectors of Vientiane, and by extension, the Lao state. The Nāga association was most clearly articulated during and immediately after the reign of Anouvong. An important poem from this period San Lup Bo Sun (San Leupphasun) discusses relations between Laos and Siam in a veiled manner, using the Nāga and the Garuda, to represent Laos and Siam, respectively. The Nāga is incorporated extensively into Lao iconography, and features prominently in Lao culture throughout the length of the country, not only in Vientiane.
In Malay and Orang Asli traditions, the lake Chinni, located in Pahang is home to a naga called Sri Gumum. Depending on legend versions, her predecessor Sri Pahang or her son left the lake and later fought a naga called Sri Kemboja. Kemboja is the former name of what is Cambodia. Like the naga legends there, there are stories about an ancient empire in lake Chinni, although the stories are not linked to the naga legends.
In many parts of pre-Hispanic Philippines, the Nāga is used as an ornament in the hilt ends of longswords locally known as kampilans.
In Thailand Nāgas figure in some stories of the Thai folklore and are represented as well in Buddhist temples as architectural elements. Phaya Naga is a well-known Nāga said to live in the Mekong river. Thai television soap opera Manisawat is based on a Nāga legend.
The legend of the Nāga is a strong and sacred belief held by Thai and Lao people living along the Mekong River. Many pay their respects to the river because they believe the Nāga still rule in it,but and locals hold an annual sacrifice for the Nāga. Each ceremony depends on how each village earns its living from the Mekong River — for instance, through fishing or transport. Local residents believe that the Nāga can protect them from danger, so they are likely to make a sacrifice to Nāga before taking a boat trip along the Mekong River.
Also, every year on the night of 15th day of 11th month in the Lao lunar calendar at the end of Vassa, an unusual phenomenon occurs in the area of the Mekong River stretching over 20 kilometres between Pak-Ngeum and Phonephisai districts in Nong Khai province, Thailand. Fireballs appear to rise from the river into the nighttime sky. Local villagers believe that Nāga under Mekong River shoot the fireballs into the air to celebrate the end of Vassa, because Nāga meditate during this time.
I know this isn’t really related to Chinese culture per se, but it’s got all the cool write-ups of East-Asian mythology, and I loveeeee all kinds of mythology!