Batang Ai is one of the regions in Malaysia that’s been least touched by modern culture. It’s the best place to see the traditional longhouses and experience a bit of authentic Borneo culture. It can be a little tricky to get to Batang Ai; most of the settlements here can only be reached by boat. However, when you arrive it’ll be well worth it.
Glide down the rivers of Batang Ai in a traditional ‘long-tail’ boat and watch the world go by. Green trees and thick vegetation, local houses and villages will all drift by as you move along the emerald green waters. On your way down, pause at Nanga Delok and Nanga Sumpa then head up to the local waterfalls – they will take your breath away.
Use this visit as a chance to find out more about the local Iban culture. The old longhouses here seem to have escaped becoming a tourist trap, despite being on a major route for travellers. They will give you a glimpse of a semi-traditional Iban lifestyle, so you can understand what it’s like to live surrounded by this glorious national park. While you’re there indulge in local dishes and find out how the Iban live in this modern world. There’s barely any electricity, so the village is pretty basic and still beholden to its old ways.
As you travel around the region, try to spot the local wildlife. Batang Ai is the best place in Sarawak to see truly wild orangutans. Sightings are not guaranteed, but they’re quite common. The Batang Ai dam is an incredible sight; it’s entirely man-made so it looks surprising in the midst of the green trees but is very impressive.
Geographically, Batang Ai isn’t too far from Kuching. However, it seems like a world away once you get there. Go with a guide to make sure you get around OK (and see all the best bits of this amazing region). We think it’s well worth the extra expense. In between the jungle, the old houses and the long-tail boats, you’ll have a holiday you’ll never forget.
Plan your trip to Batang Ai today.