The Iban are Borneo’s largest indigenous minority, comprising around one-third of Sarawak’s total population. Although the majority these days live in towns, their traditional dwelling is the longhouse – essentially an indoor village in which an entire community resides under a single roof. Corrugated iron and TVs feature in most longhouses these days, but the traditional Iban way of life has proved amazingly resilient. A great way to experience it at close quarters is to spend a night in a longhouse as a paying guest. A few around Kuching welcome visitors: our favourite is the Lemanak Longhouse on the Ai River, a 90-minute drive east of town.
Don’t expect any luxury here. You’ll sleep on a mattress with a mosquito net on the floor of a communal dormitory. But a vivid, authentically Iban atmosphere is guaranteed and you’ll have numerous opportunities to interact with your hosts. Various day trips will be included for those who spend a couple of nights at Lemanak, including excursions along the river in traditional Iban longboats.