Lemanak Longhouse, Batang Ai, Borneo
Spending a night with one of the Iban tribes in their traditional longhouse home provides an experience unlike any other. You will probably sleep on the floor in the communal living area with a simple mattress and mosquito net as your only comforts. There are 'bathrooms' but you should not expect too much and they may not have running water. What the accommodation lacks in facilities is made up for by the hospitality of the Iban people and the experience of a way of life that few people today could ever imagine.
This longhouse has not been set up for tourists. It is the permanent home of the Iban tribe and therefore we would ask you to respect their customs and traditions. If there has been a recent death then you will not be able to stay in our first choice longhouse. Please understand there is no way we can predict this and due to the remote location you will probably not find out until you have made the journey. Your guide will look after you and ensure alternative arrangements using a different longhouse run smoothly. There may be other travelers staying at the same time as you but never more than 10 and very often you will be the only ones there.
This is a unique experience but there are a few things to bear in mind when staying in a traditional longhouse in the middle of the rainforest: there will be bugs and insects and potentially larger animals in the area. You may not get the best nights sleep as the Iban tribe may be celebrating with 'tuak' (rice wine), dancing and singing which they will welcome you to get involved in! If you bring a pack of cards you may like to teach some of the tribe a couple of your favorite games. The sounds of the rainforest may also keep you awake. There may be leaks in the roof with heavy rainfall. The longhouse will be dark and smoky because paraffin lamps are used for lighting. A torch is essential and we would suggest you shower before it gets dark. You will be provided with a towel and simple bedding. Your meals with the Iban will be simple but tasty jungle fare cooked by your guide and special requests will be impossible to guarantee (but we will try!). Due to the simple bathroom facilities we would recommend taking your own tissues, some dry hand wash gel and a towel from your last hotel (though one will be provided for you). You must also be aware that there is no real privacy in the longhouse. The majority of our specialists have stayed in an Iban longhouse so please ask if you have questions as it is important you know what to expect.
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Alternative places to stay nearby
Where possible, we like to offer a range of accommodation for each stop of your trip, chosen by our specialists as some of their favorite places to stay. To help you make the right choice, we give each property a rating based on its facilities and service, but we also look for hotels with distinct character or a location that can’t be bettered.
The Batang Ai Longhouse Resort offers a rare opportunity to relax in natural surroundings. Facilities are limited but given the location what is on offer is of a good standard.
Experiences while staying here
The following activities are designed to give you the most authentic experiences of the area where you’re staying. We work with local guides, who use their knowledge and often a resident’s eye to show you the main sights and more out-of-the-way attractions. Our specialists can also suggest outdoor pursuits and activities, such as cooking classes, that will introduce you to the traditions of the area’s inhabitants.
The day is spent exploring the area by longboat and visiting the traditional longhouses of the Iban people. The Iban were notorious head hunters until the middle of this century, slaughtering their enemies and then preserving their heads to bring good fortune.