Perched on the hillside of coastal Busan, South Korea, the bright-coloured Gamcheon Culture Village is quintessentially beautiful and quirky. Visiting the pastel-coloured houses is a must for every tourist in Busan. Whether you like arts, cute or quirky things, Gamcheon Culture Village is sure to be one of the highlights of your South Korea trip.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
Busan, the second biggest city in South Korea, is known for its long beaches, delicious food and hiking opportunities. But the top attraction is without a doubt the colourful Gamcheon Culture Village. Let’s explore it together.
- 1 About Gamcheon Culture Village
- 2 Planning your visit to Gamcheon Culture Village
- 3 How to Get to Gamcheon Culture Village
- 4 Things to do in Gamcheon Culture Village
- 4.1 Get yourself a stamp map
- 4.2 Wander around a get lost
- 4.3 Discover popular art
- 4.4 Enjoy the scenery from one of the many viewpoints
- 4.5 Learn about the past of the village
- 4.6 Cafes and restaurants in Gamcheon Culture Village
- 4.7 Do some shopping
- 4.8 Where to stay
- 4.9 Nearby attractions:
- 4.10 Share this:
- 4.11 Like this:
- 4.12 Related
About Gamcheon Culture Village
The history of Gamcheon Culture Village is quite interesting. Originally, Gamcheon Village was built in 1950 by the followers of Taegeukdo religion and was one of the poor shantytowns. Persecuted at the beginning of the Korean War (1950 – 1953), the followers fled the communist North to Busan. As the war progressed, many more people joined them as Busan was one of the few cities less affected by the war.
Since 2009, thanks to the initiative “Gamcheon Village Art Project” by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Gamcheon has been transformed into a popular touristic, artistic and creative community hub.
Local artists (painters, sculptors, graffiti artists) and entrepreneurs got together to revamp the area and create an incredible community. They all added their artistic vibes to the streets, houses and shops within Gamcheon creating this beautiful and colourful tourist attraction. Since the village is perched on the hillside of Busan and is facing the sea, the vibrant neighbourhood has earned itself the nicknames of “Santorini of South Korea”, “Korea’s Machu Picchu” or “Lego Village”.
Planning your visit to Gamcheon Culture Village
The site is a must-see not only because it makes a popular and Instagram worthy attraction, but because it is great for the community. The increased number of tourists means an increase in the local economy.
Gamcheon Culture Village is as the name indicates a little village which is inhabited by people. The village is open daily however most shops and cafes open between 9 am and 6 pm.
Each year, the number of visitors increases as people come to enjoy the magnificent view the village offers. So, to beat the crowd, arrive early. It takes about 2 to 3 hours to walk through the village to see the area completely.
How to Get to Gamcheon Culture Village
Getting to Gamcheon Culture Village is easy and quick.
- Goejong Station ( Line 1, Exit 6). Take bus Sakha 1 and 1-1 to Gamcheon Culture Village.
- Toseong Station (Line 1, Exit 6). Walk straight then turn right onto Kkachigogae-ro and walk towards the bus stop. Take local bus Saha 1-1, Seogu 2, or Seogu 2-2 to Gamcheon Elementary School (감천초등학교).
- Jagalchi Station (Line 2, Exit 3/5/7). Walk towards the right and turn right onto Bosu-daro. Walk a bit, cross to the road and walk towards the bus stop on your right. Take local bus Saha 1-1, Seogu 2, or Seogu 2-2 to Gamcheon Elementary School
If you are a group of three or more, it may be cheaper to take a taxi rather than the local bus.
You can also walk from Toseong Station but be prepared for some steep hills and stairs!
- Address: 203, Gamnae 2-ro, Saha-gu, Busan 부산광역시 사하구 감내2로 203 (감천동)
- Operating Hours: the village is open all year round but it recommended for tourists to visit between 09:00-18:00
Things to do in Gamcheon Culture Village
The streets of Gamcheon are like an open art museum with sculptures and beautiful murals everywhere. The best way to explore the best things to do in the village is by walking. Bear in mind that the village has been built between mountains so expect some serious walking.
There aren’t many places you can shelter from in case of rain apart from the cafes, so it is preferable to visit on a clear day. Also, as Gamcheon Culture Village is very popular, try visiting in the early morning to avoid the horde of tourists.
Get yourself a stamp map
The first thing you will notice when you pass through the entrance of Gamcheon Culture Village is the Tourist Information Centre. Stop there to purchase a map of the village.
The detailed map (₩ 2,000) indicates all the places of interest, the cafes, restaurants, art installations, art galleries, museums and so on. Of course, as an artistic neighbourhood, the map is really well done and worth it. The map also gives three recommended routes to choose from Route A (40 mins), Route B (1h20mins) and Route C (2 hours). We took the longest route and ended up spending more time as we stopped for coffee and spent more time in some areas taking lots of pictures.
They made the map fun too as people can collect up to 12 stamps at several designated places along the route. Collect 6 stamps and you get a free postcard or two postcards for 12 stamps.
Wander around a get lost
With the map in hand, you will definitely find all the popular sights easily. But one fun part of visiting the village is to wander through the maze of winding little alleys. Having said that, please remember that the village is a residential area and people still live there.
Although they are very friendly, it is important to respect their privacy. Avoid taking intrusive photos, reduce your noise level, especially in the evening, don’t enter into their home (an open door doesn’t automatically mean you can enter!) As I mentioned, most of the residents are friendly so do ask before photographing them or their private homes.
Discover popular art
Once a run-down neighbourhood, Gamcheon Culture Village is now where Instagram lovers find themselves posing against the backdrop of brightly coloured houses and murals. After the Korean government launched its initiative to transform the neighbourhood, some of the best local, national and even international artists created what makes the site an amazing and unique place. You will find most of the artwork and murals scattered around the villages (your map here will be your best friend).
Here are some of my favourite art pieces in Gamcheon Culture Village, they are not to be missed.
You’ll find the staircase on the way to Cheon Deok Su’s Well. It’s hidden in a little corner of the village. The staircase is decorated to make it look like a bookcase with books from different countries painted on the steps. It’s a paradise for all bookworms and especially Harry Potter fans!
The Little Prince and the Fennec Fox
“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Airman’s Odyssey
The statue of the Little Prince (by French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) overlooking the entire village is THE most popular photo/selfie/Instagram spot. It’s a popular spot as people can pose for a picture between the Prince and fox and gaze at the colourful views. Be prepared to queue to take pictures.
The Stairs to See Stars
The village is full of staircases and the longest is known as the “Stairs to See Stars”. The name came as the 148 steps are steep and people get dizzy and see stars when climbing them, especially when you are carrying heavy loads. Since the narrow alleyways mean that no car can traverse the neighbourhood, deliveries must be done on foot. Whether it’s a small package or a piece of furniture, they must be carried by the delivery men. I can only imagine how difficult it must be.
Fish Swimming Through the Alley & The Fish of Gamcheon
These wooden fish were created to pay tribute to the women of Gamcheon. These women took care of their families by selling fish every day to Korea’s biggest fish market: Jagalchi Market.
Enjoy the scenery from one of the many viewpoints
Since Gamcheon Culture Village is located high in the mountains, it provides an excellent view of the city and the sea. It’s when you are on the upper side and looking over the sea that you understand the reference with Santorini (Greek island). There are several viewing points around the village like Gamcheon Village Haneul-Maru Observatory.
Learn about the past of the village
Visit the Little Museum to learn a little more about the history of the village. The museum has over 70 pieces of household items donated by the residents. You can also see replicas of the old shanty town as well as see how the area transformed over the years.
Cafes and restaurants in Gamcheon Culture Village
- Ajimae Restaurant: This restaurant was made famous by a Korean food TV program. Their speciality is Mackerel Soup and Grilled Mackerel.
- Cafe Avant-Garde: Offering the best views over Gamcheon, Cafe Avant Garde is one of the hidden gems in Busan. It’s perfect for those who want to take in the views or just relax.
- Gamnae Cafe: This cafe is located under Haneumaru and offers nice viewing points. You can sip your coffee on the terrace. This is one of the places you can get a stamp from.
- Gamnae Matjip: They offer delicious bibimbap and fish cake noodles!
- Goraesa Fish Cake: This shop sells Busan-style fish cake.
- Patjji: Cozy little place with a typical Korean cafe feel.
Do some shopping
Gamcheon is full of interesting souvenir shops to discover. With so many resident artists, you are in the right place to find unique handicrafts, cute accessories and more. Mini Shop has lots of cute souvenir options. If you have some time to spare, you can also take part in a workshop with the residents. Some of the activities on offer include wood engraving, natural dyeing, pottery, caricature or puzzle painting. The cost ranges from 6,000 to 12,000 and lasts from one hour to two hours. To find out more, check out www.gamcheon.or.kr.
Where to stay
There are many hotels and hostels in Busan but if you would like to suck up the atmosphere of Gamcheon Culture Village, you can stay onsite. Bunga Banga Guesthouse, Eoulteo Guesthouse and Grand Budapest Doll Hotel are all accommodations located within the village. Alternatively, check out Booking.Com for a complete list of hotels.
Since the village is located in the Nampo-dong area, you can include in your visit a trip to the below attractions.