Let’s take a look at Busan Gamcheon Culture Village (감천문화마을), which has been listed on 100 Must-Visit Tourist Spots in Korea by Korea Tourism Organization for four consecutive years.
203, Gamnae 2-ro, Saha-gu, Busan, South Korea
The village is open 24/7, but each store and facility has their own hours.
Subway: Line 1 (Orange Line), Toseong Station (토성/109), Exit 6 > Transfer to local bus Saha 1-1, Seogu 2 or Seogu 2-2 > Get off at Gamcheon Elementary School/Gamcheon Culture Village (감천초등학교/감천문화마을) bus stop.
Public parking lot (paid)
Call: +82 051-204-1444
Website: www.gamcheon.or.kr (available with Google Translation)
(Information in this post is based on a visit in March, 2019.)
With waves of colorful roofs and a maze of artistic alleys, Gamcheon Culture Village (감천문화마을) is one of the most popular destinations in Busan, South Korea.
The village was formed due to a sad part of Korea’s modern history, The Korean War. People started to live here to survive from the war and carried on hard lives. Now painted with all different colors and covered with beautiful murals, all the efforts by local residents and artists finally has borne fruit in a shape of this artistic town.
Gamcheon Culture Village has attracted attention as a model of urban renewal, and 3 million visitors in 2019 proves the village deserves the praise. In addition, the village is a recipient of the President’s Award at the 2016 The Good Place Award and the winner of the first Educating Cities’ Award by the International Association of Education Cities (IAEC).
Gamcheon Culture Village For Your Instagram Feed
If I have to choose one word for Gamcheon Culture Village, ‘colorful’ would be the prefect one. Whenever you turn around corners, you will find interesting murals and cute wall paintings. It’s like a street art gallery without a roof.
Thanks to these colors and artistic touches, this village would be the spot for your Instagram feed. Be ready to take lots of pictures and videos. At some popular photo zones like famous The Little Prince and The Fox spot, you may need to wait in a line – see the video below.
For more pictures and videos, or just to get yourself in awe, don’t miss Haneul Maru Observatory (하늘마루). At the observatory you can look at the impressive view of the entire village. When the sky is clear, you can see the South Port of Busan (부산남항).
To understand the village more, I borrow a part of the sign at Haneul Maru: “…the fact that it was built on terraced fields means none of the houses block their neighboring house’s view…it plays a highly educative role in the community by approaching and solving problems through active interaction and collaboration between the local government and residents….”
Some people say this neighborhood looks like the one built with Lego blocks and I think they are right.
There are many photo zones including Book Stairs, Becoming One Zone, Fish Wall, Stairs to See Stars, just to name a few. Even better, many places that are not specifically designated photo zones will get you stop, and you can’t pass those without pushing the button on your phone a few times.
What to Eat and Shop at Gamcheon Culture Village
Tasting Korean street food is absolutely one of fun experiences in the village: Tteokbokki (떡볶이), Eomuk (어묵/fishcake), Dakgangjeong (닭강정/glazed fried chicken bites), Hweori gamja (회오리감자/Tornado Potato – no worries. It’s safe.) and too many to list all of them.
If you want to take a seat and have some time to relax, there are restaurants and cafes as well. Some of cafes are located high enough to offer breathtaking views of the village.
From small souvenirs to quite high-priced artworks created by local artists, you can enjoy a wide variety of shopping here based on your budget. Items include Busan and Gamcheon Culture Village themed souvenirs like cellphone cases with The Little Prince and The Fox illustration on them, lamps with traditional Korean designs, Korean Beauty accessories, and so many more.
What You Need to Know When You Visit
Busan Gamcheon Culture Village Tourist Information Center
Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Phone: +82 051-204-1444
The information center offers lockers, the village map (KRW ₩2,000) with a stamp tour, and tour guide service (reservation required).
Because Gamcheon Culture Village is quite a maze and it’s not a small place, the local map can be handy. Also, the stamp tour with the map could be fun as it leads to the popular points of interest. For your information, the profit goes to maintenance of the village and other welfare of residents.
If your budget is tight, find the map online and save it on your phone. Besides, don’t worry about getting lost. In this village, wherever you turn your head, there will be unique art pieces and colorful murals. And, that’s how you find your own hidden gems.
The residents are living here, which makes this neighborhood more authentic and lively. Considering that, please, respect their privacy when you visit the place, so more visitors can appreciate this colorful village with heartfelt hospitality from people of Busan Gamcheon Culture Village.
In addition, drones are not so welcome here due to privacy of residents. I would suggest to contact the local authority (www.gamcheon.or.kr) for its permission if you need to use them.
One more tip before I go: As I mentioned above, the village is quite large and has many ups and downs. ‘Stairs to See Stars’ has another name ‘148 Stairs’. And it’s just a part of many stairs. Even better (?), no transportation in the village except for your two strong legs. Wear a pair of comfortable shoes.