A Guide to Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Colourful houses dot the hills, whimsical street art around every corner, and jaw-dropping views of both the sea and the city at every twist and turn. If this is something you’ve ever daydreamed about, then let me introduce you to a must-visit destination: Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan, South Korea.
This charming place is nestled in the heart of Busan, South Korea. What makes it so special? Well, it used to be a run-down slum, but it was given a remarkable makeover by local artists and residents. They’ve even given it some cool nicknames like the “Santorini of Korea,” the “Machu Picchu of Busan,” and the “Lego Village” because of its resemblance to these famous spots.
I had the chance to explore this unique village during my two-week South Korea adventure, and I’m excited to spill the beans on all you need to know for your own visit. From how to get there, to the best times to go, and what to do once you’re there, I’ve got you covered!
How to get to Gamcheon Culture Village
Gamcheon Culture Village is located on the outskirts of Busan, about 10 km from the city centre. There are several ways to reach it by public transportation or taxi. Use Naver maps to find the best route for yourself. If you choose to use a taxi you can also show them this address: 부산광역시 사하구 감천동 감천문화마을.
The best time to visit Gamcheon Culture Village
Gamcheon Culture Village is open all year round, from 9 am to 6 pm. However, some of the shops and cafes may close earlier or have different hours depending on the season and the day of the week.
The best time of the year to visit Gamcheon Culture Village is spring (April-May) or autumn (September-October), when the weather is mild and pleasant, and the village is decorated with flowers or foliage. The worst time of the year is winter (December-February) when it can be cold and windy, and some of the attractions may be closed for maintenance.
The best time of the month to visit Gamcheon Culture Village is during weekdays (Monday-Friday) when it is less crowded and more peaceful. The worst time of the month is during weekends (Saturday-Sunday) or holidays, when it can be very busy and noisy, especially with tour groups.
The best time of the day to visit Gamcheon Culture Village is early in the morning (9 am-11 am) or late in the afternoon (4 pm-6 pm), when the light is soft and beautiful, and the temperature is comfortable. The worst time of the day is midday (12 pm-3 pm), when it can be hot and sunny, and the shadows are harsh.
The entrance to the Village is free. But if you wish to get a map and a stamp book, that costs 2,000 won (about $1.6) per person. You can get them from the information centre near the entrance, or from some of the shops and cafes in the village. If you collect stamps from eight designated locations in the village, you can exchange them for a prize at the information centre.
What to do in Gamcheon Culture Village
There are so many things to do in Gamcheon Culture Village that you can easily spend a whole day here. Especially if you sign up for some of the workshops that happen But if you are short on time, Here are some of the highlights and attractions that you should not miss:
1. Collect stamps at various locations and win a prize
This is a fun and interactive way to explore the village and learn more about its history and culture. You can get a map and a stamp book from the information centre or some of the shops and cafes in the village. The map will show you where to find the eight stamp stations, which are marked with blue signs. Each stamp station has a unique design and theme, such as the Little Prince, the Fish Stairs, or the House of Peace. You can use the ink pad and stamp provided at each station to stamp your book. Once you have collected all eight stamps, you can return to the information centre and exchange them for a prize, such as a postcard, a magnet, or a keychain.
2. Explore the maze of alleys and discover hidden gems
One of the best things to do in Gamcheon Culture Village is to wander around the narrow and winding alleys and see what surprises await you. You will find colourful houses, quirky shops, cosy cafes, charming gardens, and friendly locals along the way. You will also encounter various street art and sculptures that add to the charm and creativity of the village. Some of the most famous ones are the Little Prince and his Fox, the Mural Village, and the Mirror Wall. You can also peek into some of the houses that are open to visitors and see how people live in this unique community. Just remember to be respectful of the resident’s privacy and do not enter or take photos of private properties without permission.
3. Admire the colourful street art and sculptures
Gamcheon Culture Village is a paradise for art lovers, as it is filled with stunning street art and sculptures that showcase the talent and imagination of local artists. You can see how they transformed ordinary walls, roofs, doors, windows, stairs, and even trash cans into beautiful artworks that reflect the culture and identity of the village. Some of the street art and sculptures are part of larger projects or festivals that aim to promote social issues or celebrate cultural events. For example, you can see how artists used recycled materials to create artworks that raise awareness about environmental protection or human rights. You can also see how artists used traditional motifs or symbols to create artworks that honour Korean culture or history.
4. Enjoy panoramic views of the village and the bay
One of the reasons why Gamcheon Culture Village is so popular is because of its spectacular views of the village itself and the Bay of Busan. You can enjoy these views from various spots in the village, such as rooftops, terraces, observatories, or parks. Some of the best spots are:
- Haneul Maru Observatory: This is a wooden deck that offers a 360-degree view of Gamcheon Culture Village and its surroundings. You can see how the colourful houses contrast with the green hills and the blue sea. You can also see some of the landmarks of Busan, such as the Gwangan Bridge, the Busan Tower, and the Jagalchi Market.
- Little Prince Park: This is a small park that features a statue of the Little Prince and his Fox, inspired by the famous novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The park is located on a hilltop that offers a stunning view of Gamcheon Culture Village and the bay of Busan. You can also see some of the street art and sculptures that are related to the theme of the Little Prince, such as the stars, the planets, or the rose. The park is one of the most popular spots for taking photos in Gamcheon Culture Village, so you may have to wait in line to get your shot.
- Sky Garden: A rooftop garden decorated with colourful flowers and plants. It is also a great spot to enjoy the view of Gamcheon Culture Village and the Bay of Busan. You can also see some of the street art and sculptures that are related to the theme of nature, such as butterflies, birds, or fish. The garden is located near the Haneul Maru Observatory, and it is free to access.
5. Snack on delicious street food
One of the best ways to experience the culture and taste of Gamcheon Culture Village is to try some of the local street food. You will find a variety of snacks that are cheap and tasty, such as Ssiathotteok, Hotteok, and Tteokbokki. More on what to eat in South Korea coming on the blog soon.
6. Shop for unique souvenirs and handicrafts
You’ll find local artists and residents selling handicrafts in the village, choose from:
- Postcards: Buy postcards that feature beautiful photos or illustrations of Gamcheon Culture Village or its street art and sculptures. Send them to your friends or family from the post office in Gamcheon Culture Village itself.
- Magnets: Buy magnets that feature cute designs or characters related to Gamcheon Culture Village or its street art and sculptures. You can also collect them as stamps if you buy them from the stamp stations in Gamcheon Culture Village.
- Keychains: Buy keychains that feature miniatures of Gamcheon Culture Village or its street art and sculptures. Shops also sell keychains featuring pop culture references and comic book characters.
- Handicrafts: Buy handicrafts that are made by local artists and residents using various materials and techniques, such as pottery, wood, metal, fabric, or paper. You can find items such as mugs, plates, bowls, spoons, forks, knives, chopsticks, coasters, bookmarks, notebooks, or dolls.
7. Visit cafes and restaurants with quirky themes
South Korea has some of the best cafes I’ve ever been to. And if you thought you’d have to travel near the coast to find some in Busan, you are mistaken. Gamcheon Culture Village has a number of cafes with quirky themes and decorations. Here are a few that I visited:
- Cafe Avant-Garde: This is a cafe that features a retro and vintage theme, with old-fashioned furniture, posters, records, and radios. It is also a gallery that displays artworks by local artists. A great place to buy some of the artworks or records. The cafe is located near the entrance of Gamcheon Culture Village.
- Gamnae Cafe: Nestled in the heart of Gamcheon Culture Village, has a rustic decor, featuring wooden furniture and warm lighting, creating a comforting atmosphere. What sets it apart is its commitment to supporting local artists. The café often doubles as an art gallery, showcasing pieces by talented artists from the area.
- Coffee It House: For those seeking a minimalist and contemporary escape, Coffee It House is the place to be. This cafe’s clean and sleek design provides a modern contrast to the village’s artistic backdrop.
- Duff Coffee: Duff Coffee stands out with its playful and whimsical ambience. The café boasts quirky decor, including colourful seating, funky artwork, and a lively atmosphere. It’s a hub for those looking to enjoy a fun and upbeat environment in the midst of the village’s creative aura.
8. Join a workshop
Surrounded by all the incredible artwork, you can’t help but feel your own creative spark ignite! And if you’re itching to learn new skills and let your creativity soar, why not dive into workshops led by the resident artists of Gamcheon Culture Village? These workshops are designed for everyone, whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned enthusiast. Find a list of all the ongoing workshops in Gamcheon Culture Village
I hope this pocket guide to Gamcheon Culture Village helps you plan your trip! There’s more on South Korea coming on the blog. Subscribe to stay updated and to join my journey follow me on Twitter and Instagram.