Semporna: Bukit Tengkorak (Hood Hill)


Last week we went to Semporna for another 1-day trip. Our main goal was to get to Bukit Tengkorak or Hood Hill that is quite popular as one of destinations worth visiting in Semporna, apart from island hopping activity. The hill (or in Malay, bukit) is located in Kampung Tampi-Tampi. It was officially opened for public in 2012.

Bukit Tengkorak is one of the largest pottery making sites in Southeast Asia during Neolithic period (about 3000 years ago, between 4340bc and 50bc). Apart from that, research also shows that people have been travelling between Borneo and New Britian in Melanesia (near Papua New Guinea), which was one of the longest trade routes (3,500KM) in the world during that period. info: MySabah

We arrived at the location at 9.30am to which we have encountered our lecturer with his family. They were escorting a field trip for a group of primary school kids. At our arrival, they have just finished the tour. We proceeded to register our names and later went to start our journey to the top of the hill. Luckily for all of the visitors, wooden staircases were provided along the way to the top thus people will get to really enjoy the walk and the view without too much obstacles. Shelters are provided with chairs along the way, therefore, visitors get to rest for a little while before continuing the journey.

At first I thought it would take a long journey to get to the top. But it was not that tiring, although I was gasping at some points. We took it a steady way, and mostly just enjoying the view of Semporna while having a rest for a short minutes at the shelter.

The view was getting much more enjoyable as you went higher. I especially loved looking at the sea water where you can distinguished the depth just by looking at the different shades of the color. Semporna has a very amazing islands that scattered around it. The Tun Sakaran Marine Park is clearly visible from the hill and you can try to have a little game of guessing out each name of the island you see. At the shelter, there is a small information board that helps the visitors to figure out the exact names of the islands.

Once we arrived at the peak, we went on a little tour out from the boardwalk but there is nothing historic/archaeological that were put on display. Everything was kept and moved into the gallery that is provided at the foothill. Since this hill is open free for public, the security of the archaeological leftover needs to be protected and therefore the only thing that you can find at the peak is the uniqueness of the rocks that are scattered around the area. Bukit Tengkorak is actually part of the exposed rim of an ancient volcanic crater about 2KM in diameter. The rock formation at Bukit Tengkorak consists of volcanic brecca, mostly andesitic rocks, and it believed to be the remnants of past volcanic eruptions which occurred during the Pliocene Period (5.3 to 1.8 million years ago) (

The best part of this journey was that we went to the path less taken. The surrounding of the hill was cleared off for the visitors to get a better view of the Semporna. There is a way that leads you to the end of area at the top, which you will have to walk without the help of the boardwalk where everything is surrounded with small trees. I am not sure what it’s called in English. Among all other visitors that came, we were the only that went to the end and rewarded with I think the most spectacular view of Semporna. It was probably the highlight of our trip that day.

We arrived at the foothill almost at noon that day and the sun was striking really hot. Thankfully they were selling drinks in front of the entrance leading to the gallery. After resting for awhile, we went to have a tour of the gallery. The gallery was full of information about the hill in overall, the archaeology that were found at the hill, displays of different kinds of rocks, the remains of potteries, an old wooden boat, and the remnants of wooden/log coffins that are similar to the ones in Agop Batu Tulug were also found around the hill in Semporna (not exactly found at Bukit Tengkorak but it was kept in that gallery for display purposes). Pictures of research that was done by archaeologists from the beginning until the end of the process were also displayed on the board. One thing that amazed me among all the displays was the amazingly beautiful and healthy teeth that were still attached to the skull, with few other bones that remained together. It was stated on the board that these people were practicing a healthy eating during that period. How amazing. The teeth were in absolute good condition. Acceptable though. they don’t have sugary processed foods at that time.

Bukit Tengkorak is located in Kampung Tampi-Tampi, Semporna. There is a large neighborhood area with massive size and colorful houses along the way before you can find the SMK Agama Tun Sakaran just on the left side of the road. Drive a little bit more after the school area and you will see the big entrance of the Bukit Tengkorak on the right side. From this junction, you will have to drive for 5 minutes before you can find quite an average size of garnished coloured building, on the right side. Turn right and there you go, Bukit Tengkorak.
If you are from Semporna town and would like to visit this place using public transportation, I recommend asking for help from the locals to know which vans you should take. Since Tampi-Tampi is not so far away from the town (around 15 minutes ride) then it probably wont cost that much for a return ride.
the road less taken.
It’s free for both Malaysians and Non-Malaysians (as of November 2015)
1. It takes around 30-40 minutes to reach the peak of the hill in average. You can take as much rest as you can at the shelters provided along the way.
2. Use proper shoes to ensure no injury.
3. Be careful with the wooden staircases as there are few broken pieces and left a big gap in between.
4. Bring water!
5. Enjoy the view both at the front and behind the hill.
6. To make it more adventurous, walk down the hill (behind), where you will find the end of the wooden stairs, and walk from there. You will have to walk in a narrower path, full of hip-length trees until you reach the edge of the hill. The surrounding is breathtaking, the feeling is more rewarding, the view is amazing.
7. Bring umbrella is you are not that sun-friendly or in case, it’s raining.

8. The toilet is no running water. Recommend not to use it,

I think that’s all for this Hill trip,
thank you for reading.
Next destination of Semporna trip coming up very soon!
till then.

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