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Iban Longhouse Adventure

The Iban, when they decide that something is really funny, and know that they are going to laugh for a long time, lie down first.

− Redmond O'Hanlon : Into the Heart of Borneo

Tour Details

Our Iban Longhouse Adventure Tours offer you the choice of two fascinating destinations:

Batang Lemanak, about 4 hours from Kuching, is a fast-flowing tributary of the main Batang Lupar river, and home to over 40 Iban longhouses. The longhouses here are accessed via a longboat ride along the Batang Lemanak.

Batang Ai, roughly 5 hours from Kuching, is a vast hydro lake fed by the many tributaries of the Batang Ai river system. The longhouses here are accessed by a longboat ride of an hour or more across the lake then upriver. Although remoter and generally less developed than Batang Lemanak, the area also offers the modern comforts of the Aiman Batang Ai Resort & Retreat as an accommodation option.

Whichever location you choose, the local people continue to grow traditional hill-paddy along with a few cash crops, and still practice many ancient traditions, including elaborate tattooing. They are renowned for their warm hospitality and a night or two in the longhouse is certain to be one of the highlights of your visit to Sarawak.

Tour Itineraries

Lemanak Longhouse Adventure - 2 Days 1 Night

Day 1 – Kuching – Lemanak (L D): Depart Kuching by air-conditioned van for the Lemanak River. First stop is the colourful farmers’ market in Serian town, with time for shopping or a coffee break in one of the many cafés. Continue through rural Sarawak, enjoying the distant mountain scenery while passing paddy fields, rubber plantations and the occasional longhouse. Visit a pepper garden to learn how this valuable spice is grown.  Lunch is at Lachau Bazaar, where local Iban farmers come to sell their produce and handicrafts. After lunch, the van ascends the steep hill known as Bukit Begunan and we enter the Iban Heartland, with longhouses every kilometre or so along the road. After about 90 minutes we arrive at the Lemanak River jetty and board our native longboats  for a 40-60 minute river journey in the shade of overhanging ensurai trees, before arriving at the longhouse jetty.

We enter the longhouse, where some 20 or more families live together under one roof. Most people will be going about their daily business, mending fishing nets or winnowing rice on the outer verandah (tanjong), and if we are lucky one of the ladies might be weaving an exquisite pua kumbu. We will spend some time viewing the longhouse and its surroundings, before enjoying a splendid dinner of fresh native produce, cooked by our multi-talented guide and his enthusiastic native helpers. After dinner we will be officially welcomed by the longhouse chief (Tuai Rumah) and entertained with music, cultural dances and rice wine (tuak), along with many photo opportunities. Overnight in the longhouse, which offers basic accommodation and facilities.

Day 2 – Lemanak – Kuching (B L): After breakfast, our hosts will conduct a blowpipe demonstration and we will be invited to join in. We will depart by longboat around mid-morning to retrace our journey. En route we will make one or two stops to view wild orchids and several species of pitcher plants. Lunch will be served at Lachau Bazaar, with some extra time at Lacahu for souvenir shopping.  We should arrive back at our hotel in Kuching by mid-late afternoon.

Book Now !

Please quote Product Code ISW-002-21

Lemanak Longhouse Adventure - 3 Days 2 Nights

Day 1 – Kuching – Lemanak (L D): Depart Kuching by air-conditioned van for the Lemanak River. First stop is the colourful farmers’ market in Serian town, with time for shopping or a coffee break in one of the many cafés. Continue through rural Sarawak, enjoying the distant mountain scenery while passing paddy fields, rubber plantations and the occasional longhouse. Visit a pepper garden to learn how this valuable spice is grown.  Lunch is at Lachau Bazaar, where local Iban farmers come to sell their produce and handicrafts. After lunch, the van ascends the steep hill known as Bukit Begunan and we enter the Iban Heartland, with longhouses every kilometre or so along the road. After about 90 minutes we arrive at the Lemanak River jetty and board our native longboats  fora 40-60 minute river journey in the shade of overhanging ensurai trees, before arriving at the longhouse jetty.

We enter the longhouse, where some 20 or more families live together under one roof. Most people will be going about their daily business, mending fishing nets or winnowing rice on the outer verandah (tanjong), and if we are lucky one of the ladies might be weaving an exquisite pua kumbu. We will spend some time viewing the longhouse and its surroundings, before enjoying a splendid dinner of fresh native produce, cooked by our multi-talented guideand his enthusiastic native helpers. After dinner we will be officially welcomed by the longhouse chief (Tuai Rumah) and entertained with music, cultural dances and rice wine (tuak), along with many photo opportunities. Overnight in the longhouse, which offers basic accommodation and facilities.

Day 2 – Upriver by Longboat (B L D) After breakfast, we board our longboats to explore the upper reaches of the Lemanak. After an hour or so of cruising through shallow rapids enclosed by steep tree-lined river banks, we arrive at a pebble beach formed by river erosion, known as a kerangan in Iban. We disembark and the native boatmen and our guide prepare our lunch, while we bathe in the river or explore the riverbank and the jungle surroundings. After a feast including jungle ferns and manok pansoh or ikan pansoh (chicken or fish steamed in bamboo tubes over an open fire), we head back downriver in the late afternoon. Dinner is once again served by our guide and his native team, and afterwards we are free to sit on the ruai (inner verandah) and spend a quiet evening chatting with the residents. Overnight in the longhouse.

Day 3 – Kuching – Lemanak (B L): After breakfast, our hosts will conduct a blowpipe demonstration and we will be invited to join in. We will depart by longboat around mid-morning to retrace our journey. En route we will make one or two stops to view wild orchids and several species of pitcher plants. Lunch will be served at Lachau Bazaar, with some extra time at Lacahu for souvenir shopping.  We should arrive back at our hotel in Kuching by mid-late afternoon.

Book Now !

Please quote Product Code ISW-002-32

Batang Ai Longhouse Adventure - 2 Days 1 Night

Day 1 – Kuching – Batang Ai (L D): Depart Kuching by air-conditioned van for the Batang Ai Hydro Lake. First stop is the colourful farmers’ market in Serian town, with time for shopping or a coffee break in one of the many cafés. Continue through rural Sarawak, enjoying the distant mountain scenery while passing paddy fields, rubber plantations and the occasional longhouse. Visit a pepper garden to learn how this valuable spice is grown.  Lunch is at Lachau Bazaar, where local Iban farmers come to sell their produce and handicrafts. After lunch, we enter the Iban Heartland, with longhouses every kilometre or so along the road. Less than 2 hours later we arrive at the Batang Ai Jetty, where we can freshen up before boarding our native longboats  for a 60-90 minute journey across the vast hydro lake, then up one of the tributary rivers, negotiating fast-flowing rapids before arriving at the longhouse jetty.

We enter the longhouse, where some 20 or more families live together under one roof. Most people will be going about their daily business, mending fishing nets or winnowing rice on the outer verandah (tanjong), and if we are lucky one of the ladies might be weaving an exquisite pua kumbu. We will spend some time viewing the longhouse and its surroundings, before enjoying a splendid dinner of fresh native produce, cooked by our multi-talented guideand his enthusiastic native helpers. After dinner we will be officially welcomed by the longhouse chief (Tuai Rumah) and entertained with music, cultural dances and rice wine (tuak), along with many photo opportunities. Overnight in the longhouse, which offers basic accommodation and facilities.

Day 2 – Batang Ai – Kuching (B L): After breakfast, our hosts will conduct a blowpipe demonstration and we will be invited to join in. We will depart by longboat around mid-morning to retrace our journey. En route we will make one or two stops to view wild orchids and several species of pitcher plants. Lunch will be served at Lachau Bazaar, with some extra time at Lachau for souvenir shopping.  We should arrive back at our hotel in Kuching by late afternoon.

Book Now !

Please quote Product Code ISW-002-21B

Batang Ai Longhouse Adventure - 3 Days 2 Nights

Day 1 – Kuching – Batang Ai (L D): Depart Kuching by air-conditioned van for the Batang Ai Hydro Lake. First stop is the colourful farmers’ market in Serian town, with time for shopping or a coffee break in one of the many cafés. Continue through rural Sarawak, enjoying the distant mountain scenery while passing paddy fields, rubber plantations and the occasional longhouse. Visit a pepper garden to learn how this valuable spice is grown.  Lunch is at Lachau Bazaar, where local Iban farmers come to sell their produce and handicrafts. After lunch, we enter the Iban Heartland, with longhouses every kilometre or so along the road. Less than 2 hours later we arrive at the Batang Ai Jetty, where we can freshen up before boarding our native longboats  for a 60-90 minute journey across the vast hydro lake, then up one of the tributary rivers, negotiating fast-flowing rapids before arriving at the longhouse jetty.

We enter the longhouse, where some 20 or more families live together under one roof. Most people will be going about their daily business, mending fishing nets or winnowing rice on the outer verandah (tanjong), and if we are lucky one of the ladies might be weaving an exquisite pua kumbu. We will spend some time viewing the longhouse and its surroundings, before enjoying a splendid dinner of fresh native produce, cooked by our multi-talented guideand his enthusiastic native helpers. After dinner we will be officially welcomed by the longhouse chief (Tuai Rumah) and entertained with music, cultural dances and rice wine (tuak), along with many photo opportunities. Overnight in the longhouse, which offers basic accommodation and facilities.

Day 2 – Upriver by Longboat (B L D): After breakfast, we board our longboats to explore the upper reaches of the Batang Ai river system, some of the best-preserved rainforest in all of Borneo. After cruising through shallow rapids enclosed by steep tree-lined river banks, we arrive at a beautiful jungle waterfall, complete with a pebble beach formed by river erosion, known as a kerangan in Iban. We disembark and the native boatmen and our guide prepare our lunch, while we bathe in the river or explore the riverbank and the jungle surroundings. After a feast including jungle ferns and manok pansoh or ikan pansoh (chicken or fish steamed in bamboo tubes over an open fire), we head back downriver in the late afternoon. Dinner is once again served by our guide and his native team, and afterwards we are free to sit on the ruai (inner verandah) and spend a quiet evening chatting with the residents. Overnight in the longhouse.

Day 3 – Batang Ai – Kuching (B L): After breakfast, our hosts will conduct a blowpipe demonstration and we will be invited to join in. We will depart by longboat around mid-morning to retrace our journey. En route we will make one or two stops to view wild orchids and several species of pitcher plants. Lunch will be served at Lachau Bazaar, with some extra time at Lacahu for souvenir shopping.  We should arrive back at our hotel in Kuching by late afternoon.

Book Now !

Please quote Product Code ISW-002-32B

Batang Ai Jungle Adventure - 3 Days 2 Nights

Day 1 – Kuching – Batang Ai (L D): Depart Kuching by air-conditioned van for the Batang Ai Hydro Lake. First stop is the colourful farmers’ market in Serian town, with time for shopping or a coffee break in one of the many cafés. Continue through rural Sarawak, enjoying the distant mountain scenery while passing paddy fields, rubber plantations and the occasional longhouse. Visit a pepper garden to learn how this valuable spice is grown.  Lunch is at Lachau Bazaar, where local Iban farmers come to sell their produce and handicrafts. After lunch, we enter the Iban Heartland, with longhouses every kilometre or so along the road. Less than 2 hours later we arrive at the Batang Ai Jetty, where we can freshen up before boarding our native longboats  for a 60-90 minute journey across the vast hydro lake, then up one of the tributary rivers, negotiating fast-flowing rapids before arriving at the longhouse jetty.

We enter the longhouse, where some 20 or more families live together under one roof. Most people will be going about their daily business, mending fishing nets or winnowing rice on the outer verandah (tanjong), and if we are lucky one of the ladies might be weaving an exquisite pua kumbu. We will spend some time viewing the longhouse and its surroundings, before enjoying a splendid dinner of fresh native produce, cooked by our multi-talented guideand his enthusiastic native helpers. After dinner we will be officially welcomed by the longhouse chief (Tuai Rumah) and entertained with music, cultural dances and rice wine (tuak), along with many photo opportunities. Overnight in the longhouse, which offers basic accommodation and facilities.

Day 2 – Upriver Trek & Jungle Camp (B L D): After breakfast, our hosts will conduct a blowpipe demonstration and we will be invited to join in. We then board our longboats to explore the upper reaches of the Batang Ai river system, some of the best-preserved rainforest in all of Borneo. After cruising through shallow rapids enclosed by steep tree-lined river banks, we arrive at a beautiful jungle waterfall, complete with a pebble beach formed by river erosion, known as a kerangan in Iban. We disembark to bathe in the river and explore the riverbank and the jungle surroundings while our guide and boatmen prepare an al-fresco lunch from local ingredients.  After lunch we trek through the pristine rainforest, keeping an eye open for wildlife and unusual plants, and learning how the Iban use the jungle for their everyday needs. We arrive at our jungle camp site in the late afternoon, and our guide his local helpers set up our camp and prepare a jungle feast including jungle ferns and manok pansoh or ikan pansoh (chicken or fish steamed in bamboo tubes over our camp fire). After dinner we take a short night walk through the jungle to see and hear all the nocturnal creatures, then sit around the campfire listening to tales of headhunters and jungle spirits. Overnight in the jungle camp.

Day 3 – Batang Ai – Kuching (B L): After breakfast, we will trek back to the river to board our boats and return to the longhouse. After some brief goodbyes we then depart by longboat around mid-morning to retrace our journey. En route we will make one or two stops to view wild orchids and several species of pitcher plants. Lunch will be served at Lachau Bazaar, with some extra time at Lacahu for souvenir shopping.  We should arrive back at our hotel in Kuching by late afternoon.

Price on application – Book Now !

Please enquire quoting product code ISW-002-32J

Batang Ai Longhouse & Resort - 2 Days 1 Night

Day 1 – Kuching – Batang Ai (L): Depart Kuching by air-conditioned van for the Batang Ai Hydro Lake. First stop is the colourful farmers’ market in Serian town, with time for shopping or a coffee break in one of the many cafés. Continue through rural Sarawak, enjoying the distant mountain scenery while passing paddy fields, rubber plantations and the occasional longhouse. Visit a pepper garden to learn how this valuable spice is grown.  Lunch is at Lachau Bazaar, where local Iban farmers come to sell their produce and handicrafts. After lunch, we enter the Iban Heartland, with longhouses every kilometre or so along the road. Less than 2 hours later we arrive at the Batang Ai Jetty, where we can freshen up before boarding our native longboats  for a 60-90 minute journey across the vast hydro lake, then up one of the tributary rivers, negotiating fast-flowing rapids before arriving at the longhouse jetty.

We enter the longhouse, where some 20 or more families live together under one roof. Most people will be going about their daily business, mending fishing nets or winnowing rice on the outer verandah (tanjong), and if we are lucky one of the ladies might be weaving an exquisite pua kumbu. We will be officially welcomed by the longhouse chief (Tuai Rumah) and entertained with music, cultural dances and rice wine (tuak), along with many photo opportunities. We will spend some time viewing the longhouse and its surroundings and joining in a blowpipe demonstration before departing across the lake to the 3-star Aiman Batang Ai Resort & Retreat for dinner (at own expense) and overnight.

Day 2 – Batang Ai – Kuching (B L): After breakfast, the resort’s resident naturalist will conduct a short nature walk through the nearby rainforest. We will then depart by the resort’s own ferry around mid-morning to retrace our journey. En route we will make one or two stops to view wild orchids and several species of pitcher plants. Lunch will be served at Lachau Bazaar, with some extra time at Lachau for souvenir shopping.  We should arrive back at our hotel in Kuching by late afternoon.

Book Now !

Please quote product code ISW-002-21R

Batang Ai Longhouse & Resort - 3 Days 2 Nights

Day 1 – Kuching – Batang Ai (L D): Depart Kuching by air-conditioned van for the Batang Ai Hydro Lake. First stop is the colourful farmers’ market in Serian town, with time for shopping or a coffee break in one of the many cafés. Continue through rural Sarawak, enjoying the distant mountain scenery while passing paddy fields, rubber plantations and the occasional longhouse. Visit a pepper garden to learn how this valuable spice is grown.  Lunch is at Lachau Bazaar, where local Iban farmers come to sell their produce and handicrafts. After lunch, we enter the Iban Heartland, with longhouses every kilometre or so along the road. Less than 2 hours later we arrive at the Batang Ai Jetty, where we can freshen up before boarding our native longboats  for a 60-90 minute journey across the vast hydro lake, then up one of the tributary rivers, negotiating fast-flowing rapids before arriving at the longhouse jetty.

We enter the longhouse, where some 20 or more families live together under one roof. Most people will be going about their daily business, mending fishing nets or winnowing rice on the outer verandah (tanjong), and if we are lucky one of the ladies might be weaving an exquisite pua kumbu. We will spend some time viewing the longhouse and its surroundings, before enjoying a splendid dinner of fresh native produce, cooked by our multi-talented guideand his enthusiastic native helpers. After dinner we will be officially welcomed by the longhouse chief (Tuai Rumah) and entertained with music, cultural dances and rice wine (tuak), along with many photo opportunities. Overnight in the longhouse, which offers basic accommodation and facilities.

Day 2 – Upriver by Longboat (B L D): After breakfast, our hosts will conduct a blowpipe demonstration and we will be invited to join in. We then board our longboats to explore the upper reaches of the Batang Ai river system, some of the best-preserved rainforest in all of Borneo. After cruising through shallow rapids enclosed by steep tree-lined river banks, we arrive at a beautiful jungle waterfall, complete with a pebble beach formed by river erosion, known as a kerangan in Iban. We disembark and the native boatmen and our guide prepare our lunch, while we bathe in the river or explore the riverbank and the jungle surroundings. After a feast including jungle ferns and manok pansoh or ikan pansoh (chicken or fish steamed in bamboo tubes over an open fire), we head back downriver in the late afternoon before departing across the lake to the 3-star Aiman Batang Ai Resort & Retreat for dinner (at own expense) and overnight.

Day 3 – Batang Ai – Kuching (B L): After breakfast, the resort’s resident naturalist will conduct a short nature walk through the nearby rainforest.  We will then depart by the resort’s own ferry around mid-morning to retrace our journey. En route we will make one or two stops to view wild orchids and several species of pitcher plants. Lunch will be served at Lachau Bazaar, with some extra time at Lacahu for souvenir shopping.  We should arrive back at our hotel in Kuching by late afternoon.

Book Now !

Please quote product code ISW-002-32R

Orang Utan Extension

If you are happy to get up an hour earlier (depart Kuching 7.45 am), for a very small surcharge we can include a visit to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre to observe the semi-wild orangutans during feeding time. Over 20 rehabilitated and locally born orangutans roam this forest reserve, and many still return for extra feeding at the stations. This will be the first stop before continuing to Serian Market. To ensure we stay on schedule if you choose this option, we will save the pepper garden visit for the return journey.

What's Included in the Price?

The tour price is based on a minimum of 2 persons travelling together on a twin-sharing basis unless otherwise indicated. Please enquire for detailed pricing, extensions and large group rates. Check the small print for our terms and conditions.

Tour Price Includes: 

  • Accommodation  as indicated
  • Meals as indicated (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
  • Transfers to/from Kuching city hotels
  • Transfers from Damai Beach are subject to a RM25 surcharge.
  • English/Malay/Iban-speaking tour guide.
  • Entry fee to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre (if selecting this option)

Tour Price Does Not Include

  • Flights
  • Tipping for guides, drivers and boatmen
  • Alcoholic beverages (except those poured as part of a traditional ceremony)
  • Gifts for longhouse residents. Your guide will advise.
  • Goods & Services Tax 

Note: Weather conditions and the water level may force our guides to modify the tour in the interests of safety. No refunds will be offered for any tour or extension sold.

Payment Methods

International Payment Methods:

  • 5% surcharge for payment by PayPal, Visa and Mastercard – we will email you a PayPal invoice that you can use to pay either from your PayPal account or by Visa or Mastercard.
  • Telegraphic Transfer – TT (bank wire) in Malaysian Ringgit to our bank account. You are responsible for all originating bank charges. 

 Domestic Payment Methods (for Malaysian customers and overseas customers already in Malaysia)

  • 5% surcharge for payment by PayPal, Visa and Mastercard – we will email you a PayPal invoice that you can use to pay either from your PayPal account or by Visa or Mastercard.
  • Online transfer to our bank account. 
  • Cash deposit to our bank account at any Maybank Counter/Cash Deposit Machine. 
  • By cheque (Malaysian cheques only, payable to “Suntravel Sdn Bhd”) at any Maybank Counter or Cheque Deposit Machine or by mail to the address shown on the page footer (please allow up to 7 days for clearance). 
  • By cash in person at our Kuching office. 

Bank Details 

  • Bank:  Malayan Banking Berhad (Maybank)
  • Branch:  Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, 93100 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
  • Account No:  011 038 810 818
  • Account Name:  Suntravel Sdn Bhd
  • SWIFT Code (for telegraphic transfers):  MBBEMYKL

Notes 

  • When you deposit to our bank account via cash or cheque, please ensure that you retain the deposit slip and email the scanned image to sun@suntravelborneo.com as proof of payment.
  • If using online transfer, please state your name and invoice number in the comments area.
  • If paying by telegraphic transfer, please note that Malaysian banks do not use IBAN codes. Please ensure you include the SWIFT code.

Hints & Tips

  • You will need to bring the following items; light & comfortable clothing, torchlight, raincoat or poncho, slippers/sandals, trekking shoes, sun hat,  swimwear, personal toiletries, personal medicine (ointment, pain killers, etc.), insect repellent, sun lotion, camera with extra batteries to last the trip (as you may not be able to recharge), lightweight sleeping bag (if trekking to Batang Ai jungle camp).
  • There is no hot water in the longhouse. Be prepared for cold showers, or bathe in the river like the Iban do.
  • The cockerels usually crow all night. If you are a light sleeper, bring some earplugs. We recommend the soft foam type, available from most pharmacies.
  • Mosquito nets are supplied. However, you should cover up or apply mosquito repellent to prevent getting bitten in and around the longhouse.
  • Don’t wear your best shoes. If the water is low, you may have to get out of the boat and help to push.
  • It is extremely impolite to refuse any food or drink by waving it away. If you are full or don’t like the look of something, just touch the offered plate or glass with your fingers.
  • The rice wine (tuak) is usually stronger than it appears.
  • Please don’t give any money, sweets or gifts to children. Anything you may wish to donate should be passed to the longhouse chief for equal distribution amongst all families. Your guide will advise.
  • Please carry small change and low value notes to buy drinks and souvenirs.
  • If you are vegetarian/vegan or have any food allergies, please let us know when you book so we can make the necessary arrangements.

Experience your own Iban Longhouse Adventure from only RM860!

Book now to spend a fascinating night or two with Borneo’s famous former headhunters. 

Photo Credits

All photos on this page were taken on the Lemanak River and are a fair representation of what you may expect to see. All images © Sarawak Tourism Board.

Travel Agency Services

For Flight Ticketing, Hotel Reservations, Overseas Travel and Outbound Tour Packages, please visit our sister site: www.suntravelworld.com