Gamcheon Village was one of the highlights of our trip to Busan. I highly enjoyed this colourful cute village. The village is currently well developed, but it used to be very run down. Refugees of Korean war lived here during the 50s and 60s.
From 2009 a development project transformed the area into a cute neighbourhood with a number of murals and statues, as well as cute cafes and more. You will also find various cultural and art centers here.
Fun fact: They even nicknamed Gamcheon Machu Picchu of Korea, but I honestly don’t see any connection at all. I have also seen it called Busan’s Santorini (although this title is more relevant for Hanneul village 😊)
How to get to Gamcheon Culture Village
Map from the information center: 2000 Won.
Transportation: Get to the metro station Toseong and hop on a bus #1-1 or 2-2. (Consult Naver for the best routes at the time you are visiting, as it sometimes changes). These are small buses, which run on short routes and considering that they go uphill on a winding road, you will be exhausted, if you are standing. I hardly managed to keep myself from falling and that in a very crowded bus. You won’t miss Gamcheon stop simply because the whole bus will empty there 😊
Note: despite the fact that the area is on the slope, it is quite accessible, given that you can start your visit from the upper levels near the visitors’ center and keep walking down (you can even avoid any stairs, if you don’t go into the small alleys). You don’t have to climb back up, as you can hop on the bus once you complete the route (see the information below).
Try to arrive here before 9am. This is one of the places people suggest coming to early to avoid crowds. You can first grab coffee from one of the cafes located before you even enter the village. We chose It House – it’s a café in the pink building and has nice views (actually this and a couple of other cafes indicate they open at 10, however, we were here before 10 and they were already open). Here is the list of cafes we liked around Busan, including in this area.
At 9am the information center opens (here is the location on Google and on Naver), and you can grab a map there. You don’t have to of course, but this was so much fun. The map has certain highlighted locations, where you can collect stamps along the route. In some places, you will even get the postcards in some of these places – so you basically you get a map and 3 postcards for the price of 2000 won. We managed to collect all stamps and really enjoyed doing it. So don’t skip this if you like maps and scavenger hunts.
Of course, while trying to find the spots on the map, also do get lost in narrow streets, it’s a lovely way to come by smaller places and have them all to yourself. The village is still a place for residence, therefore, be careful not to disturb locals and wonder into someone’s yard, while walking around.
The Stamp Route and the Village’s Highlights
To start the route, from the information center follow the route straight. I should note that this area is the most crowded and further you go, less people you encounter. I assume tour groups only visit a short part and then go back, instead of walking down, which is a nice thing, as we wondered around happily, after all the hoards on the first stretch.
On this street (running from information center) is the Little Museum, where you can find out more about the village. Moving on you will see a fun fish shaped decoration on the wall, which is a popular photo spot for Instagram, so if you aren’t here very early, you will have to wait to take a picture here.
Across the road and up the stairs is Hanneul Maru – a spot where you get a stamp and also can enjoy even higher views over the village and seaside.
If you take the stairs down, you will find the artwork with umbrellas and red and blue boots, which makes for a fun pictures.
You can also find the village house decorated in an old style with some wooden statues. After exploring this lower road somewhat, climb back up to follow the map route.
The village has a number of cutest cafes all offering lovely views of the colorful village and of the sea. Wooin cafe, for instance, is cute.
Walking along the road downhill, you will find more artworks, as well as viewpoints. You will see some BTS murals, if you are an “army” (I have no clue which ones they are). Then, you will soon come by a Little planet coffee shop, which has a balcony upstairs with a colorfully decorated balcony.
Further down the road you will find the statues of the Little Prince and the fox. There was a long queue here with people taking tons of time to get pictures. We couldn’t even snatch a picture of the statues themselves without people in the photos, but we were not about to wait for ages just for a photo.
Closeby is a lighthouse with a photo spot – another place with a queue, but this time it’s smaller.
Near Café Plate, you can see the colorfully painted stairs. This area wasn’t so crowded any more, and from here onwards we only met a few people at a time.
By the way, another thing you will notice in the village are the postal boxes. You can actually write a postcard and receive it after a year. That sounded like a fun thing to do.
If you are visiting during the cherry blossom season, there’s a cute viewpoint with the lovely tree backdrop. After this explore the little alleys to see “Stairs to see the stars” – the name comes from the fact that people got dizzy and saw stars while climbing up the 148 stairs. Further, you will also see the little mockup of the village.
At the community center you will be visiting while following the map, you will find another viewpoint. Btw when we entered the center, we were greeted by a life-sized receptionist statue, which before a closer look felt, like a real person. We almost started talking to her 😊 From the community center somewhat downwards you will find an artwork with a guitar.
If you are interested, the village also offers a number of arts and crafts workshops, as well as souvenirs, crafts, food and so on. You can also come by a fortunetelling area, where you can buy those balls according to the zodiac sign and get the paper telling your fortune (I tried that in Ikseondong in Seoul and you get a paper with generalized phrases of how good your fortune will be. However, it’s a fun thing to do at least once).
Overall, we spent about 3 hours here wondering around, taking tons of photos and getting the map stamped.
Once you finish the route, you will be quite a long way downhill. I don’t suggest climbing back up, as it would be tiring and unnecessary, unless you want to do some more exploring. Just get on the road and take a bus 2-2 or 1-1. You can take a bus back to Nampo by taking the one going uphill. Alternatively, you can take a bus going downhill and once it gets on a highway, get off to switch to another bus (16, 7 or whatever else Naver suggests). If you don’t mind walking, you could also walk to Songdo beach, which should take about an hour.