A longhouse or as the local called it ‘Rumah Panjang’, is a traditional dwelling of many of the natives in Sarawak such as the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu. Normally, a rumah panjang will consist of a terraced street of separate dwellings and it will be covered by one roof and shared by many families. Each family will have their own room and they will carry their communal activities out on the ruai (verandah).
With these general characteristics, a visit to Sarawak’s Longhouses is one of a lifetime experience that you don’t want to miss.
Generally, the longhouses will sit on slits and contains around 30 to 50 rooms for each family. It will be head by a tuai rumah (headman).
In the old days, the longhouses are built high above the ground for the safety of the families from enemies and wild animals. Nowadays, there are not many traditionally built longhouses left due to the modern influence but still, there are few available for visitation.
The Kampong Annah Rais longhouse is one of the most popular and frequently visited and it is one of the very few surviving Bidayuh Longhouses in Sarawak. Located in Padawan, journey by the road from Kuching City will take around one and a half hour and it can be arranged directly or through local tour agents.
The other Bidayuh Longhouse that can be visited is the Kampong Benuk Longhouse located in Penrissen. The location and journey time is slightly nearer compared to the Annah Rais. On your journey to Kampung Benuk from Kuching, you will need to pass the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, so; if you carefully plan your route, you can visit both places in one go.
Besides of the Bidayuh longhouses, there is also the Iban Longhouses that you can visit and experience their unique lifestyles and culture. Famous for their headhunting stories, most of the Iban longhouses located by the riverside. So, the only way to reach them is by using longboats.
The frequently visited and most popular Iban longhouses are located in Sri Aman. From Kuching city, the journey to Sri Aman took around 4 hours and the first you can visit is the Batang Ai Longhouse which is located within the Batang Ai National Park.
Another option is the Skrang Iban Longhouse located by the Skrang River. You will need to take a longboat up the Batang Skrang and upon arrival, you will be greeted with traditional dances, music and also will be served a traditional special wine called tuak.
I Want To Visit Longhouses, But There Is Not Enough Time
If you on a short trip and your daily itinerary are quite full to make the journey there are other options that able you to visit most of the houses which is a trip to Sarawak Cultural Village.
Sarawak Cultural Village is a unique award-winning living