The ultimate guide to Lipton's Seat, Sri Lanka

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Posted: March 14, 2023 | Last Update: 26. Jun 2023

Lipton's Seat, Sri Lanka, panorama

If you planning a trip to Sri Lanka, one of the destinations on your bucket list needs to be Lipton's Seat! Located in the heart of the country’s central highlands, Lipton's Seat is a stunning scenic overlook that offers a 360° panoramic view of the surrounding hills, valleys and tea plantations. In this ultimate guide, we will give you a detailed overview on how to travel to Lipton's Seat, what to expect when you get there and share a hidden gem with you. Get ready to learn everything you need to know before you go to Lipton’s Seat and why it is a must-see destination.

Lipton's Seat, Sri Lanka, panorama

Rena and Nick at Lipton's Seat, Sri Lanka

Ayubowan! Did you know Lipton’s Seat has been named one of the Worlds Top 10 most scenic overlooks?
So imagine our disappointment when we came here a couple of days ago and it was rainy and foggy! I was so gutted that I decided to change our itinerary and extend our stay at the Melheim Resort just so we could have another shot at admiring the panoramic views from Lipton’s Seat during sunny weather. It was so worth it!

How to get to Lipton’s Seat: the journey is the destination

The easiest and most popular way of getting to Lipton's Seat is by taking a tuk-tuk (a three-wheeled motorized vehicle commonly used as transportation in Sri Lanka). It's a perfect way to enjoy the natural beauty of the island while also getting to your destination, albeit slower than by car (it is not possible to take a car / taxi up to Lipton’s seat due to the size and condition of the roads).
Starting from Haputale town, the journey takes around 45 minutes and will cost you around 3000 LKR. The tuk-tuk ride is an adventure in itself, as the roads to Lipton's Seat are narrow, winding and covered in potholes, so be prepared for a bumpy yet very exciting ride.

Tuk-Tuk ride

On your way, you will pass a couple of settlements where the local (mostly Hindu) workers live - if you have not seen Hindu temples before, make sure to stop and have a good look at their colourful and welcoming places of worship.

The steep drop-off offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The tea gardens are a sight to behold, with the neatly-arranged rows of tea plants stretching as far as the eye can see and offer a glimpse into the history of tea in Sri Lanka.

villagers in  Lipton's Seat, Sri Lanka

As the tuk-tuk winds its way uphill, the scenery will slowly change and you will soon journey through lush tea gardens, passing by local tea pickers and their baskets.

Tea pickers in tea gardens, Sri Lanka

If you are feeling more adventurous or are looking for some exercise, you can also hike to Lipton's Seat from Haputale.
The hike takes around 3-4 hours and will take you through tea plantations, past waterfalls, and offer stunning views of the surrounding hills and valleys.

Below is some video footage of the tuk-tuk ride up to Lipton's Seat

Sri Lanka Tuk Tuk

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Know before you go

The entrance fee to Lipton’s Seat is 500 LKR (1.50$) per person plus another 100 LKR per tuk-tuk. It has to be paid (in cash) at a checkpoint about one kilometre before reaching the summit.

Lipton’s Seat is set at an altitude of 1970m (6463ft) above sea level, while the town of Haputale lies below at about 1400m (4600ft). That’s an altitude increase of over 500m (1600ft), so the weather on the summit may be different to the one in town. During our first visit, we experienced hot, cold, wind, fog, clear views and rain on our tuk-tuk ride (and I have been cold and miserable).
Come prepared and bring a hoodie/light jacket as well as a rain poncho* (affiliate link)

Sunny vs foggy weather at Lipton's Seat, Sri Lanka

The million dollar views from Lipton’s Seat

Which ever means of getting to the overlook you choose, it will be worth it. The panoramic views and scenery unfolding before your eyes are so beautiful that Lipton’s Seat has been named one of the world’s top 10 view points.

Lipton's Seat, Sri Lanka, panoramic view

Lipton's Seat, Sri Lanka, panorama

More photos in the gallery below!

The history of Lipton's Seat

Lipton? That Lipton? Yes, the brand most commonly known for iced tea. But how much do you know about the person behind the brand?

Lipton's Seat is named after Sir Thomas Lipton, a Scottish tea magnate who once owned tea plantations in the area.
He was a pioneer and major figure in the tea industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and his legacy is still felt in Sri Lanka today. Rising from humble beginnings as a self-made man, he became one of the most successful businessmen of his time.

In the late 19th century, Lipton built the Dambatenne Tea Factory that you will pass on your journey to the summit. The factory was designed to process the tea leaves grown on Lipton's plantations and is still in operation today.

Sir Thomas Lipton, Lipton's Seat, Sri Lanka

If you want to learn more about the history of tea in Sri Lanka, you can do so by visiting the Dambatenne factory - they offer guided tours where you can see how tea is made, from picking the leaves to packaging the final product.
Lipton's Seat is believed to have been a favourite spot of Sir Thomas Lipton himself. Legend has it that he would visit the spot to admire the stunning views and check on the progress of his tea plantations. And sure enough, you can sit in the shade next to Sir Thomas’ statue and admire the view with him.

History of  Lipton's Seat, Sri Lanka

Insider’s tip: a true hidden gem on Lipton’s Seat

You know what the biggest surprise was on Lipton’s Seat? Finding this hidden gem!
When we arrived there around 9am we were the only people on the Seat, apart from three local men sitting in the ‘parking lot’ (you can park about 3 tuk-tuks there), who greeted us friendly and pointed out some details of the views. After we were done taking pictures, they invited us to have tea at the café (to be honest, we would not have guessed that building to be a café at all, there is not even a sign). The weather was nice and since we just drove through tea gardens we thought ‘why not’.
Cue the best and most authentic breakfast we have had in all of Sri Lanka!
There was no menu, so we expected a cup of tea each.

Cafe at Lipton's Seat, Sri Lanka

Instead we received a large pot of freshly brewed tea with jaggery (unrefined sugar lumps that are not stirred into the drink but bitten off separately) and a tray with four breakfast dishes: dhal cakes, vegetable samosas, roti with sambal and the most delicious sweet pancakes filled with coconut and jaggery. Everything was freshly prepared and bursting with flavour. It's a perfect way to start your day before exploring the surrounding area.

The combination of the delicious food and the café being such a humble place, barely more than an open structure with plastic furniture and laundry in the background paired with the million dollar vista of the valleys below made it one of the most authentic and cherished experiences of our trip.

Oh, and by the way: the breakfast (for both of us and our driver) cost us a total of LKR 1700 (about 6$).

TL;DR - our verdict

Lipton's Seat is a must-visit destination in Sri Lanka, and we hope this guide has given you a good idea of how to travel there and what to expect when you arrive. The journey through the tea gardens is an adventure in itself, and the view from the top is truly stunning. Be sure to try the breakfast at the ‘unnamed café’, and take a guided tour of the nearby Dambatenne Tea Factory to learn about the history of tea in Sri Lanka. So, hop on a tuk tuk and make your way up to this stunning overlook - you won't regret it.

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We hope you have a fantastic time! Please leave me a comment below if this article was helpful or tag me under @RenasTravelsAndTastes if you post your pictures on social media :)

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