With the increasing popularity of Instagram, Busan now seems to be widely known for its colourful village full of art. If you would like to see this magical place for yourself, you are in luck because today I am bringing you tips for visiting the Gamcheon Culture Village!
What is the Gamcheon Culture Village?
Now a major tourist attraction in South Korea actually started as a makeshift home created by refugees during the Korean War in the 1950s. For years, this hillside village remained one of Busan’s poorest neighbourhoods.
Until 2009. Everything changed for Gamcheon that year when someone came up with a project to transform the village into a creative place with a lot of art. Gradually, more and more art was decorating the little streets, houses and stairs, which started to attract visitors. (If you are interested in history and want to read about it in detail, I found a great article here.)
These days, the Gamcheon Culture Village is a busy place. Tourists are coming from all over Korea and abroad to walk the streets of this charming colourful place and admire all the different pieces of art scattered around the village. I think Instagram might have a lot to do with the rising popularity of Gamcheon because virtually all the pictures you take here are the kind of material people love to put on Instagram. And yes, that’s where I also heard about the village for the first time.
How to Get There?
To get to the Gamcheon Culture Village, go to Toseong Station (subway line 1) and take exit 6. From there you can either take a bus or a taxi. Take a bus number 2 or 2-2 from outside the Busan Medical Center and get off at Gamcheon Elementary School (감천초등학교).
Disclaimer: I didn’t use this route myself, I chose a one hour walk from my accommodation instead.
Useful Information Before You Go
The entry is free.
You can buy a stamp map of the village in the tourist office by the entrance for 2,000 KW. I recommend getting this map, it shows you where all the good stuff is!
There are many cafés, restaurants and food stalls inside the village but the food is overpriced. I found a very cheap local restaurant upon exiting the local market at the south end of the village (opposite end to the main entrance).
Walking through the village takes about 1-2 hours but if you are into art and taking photos, it’s easy to spend 4 hours or more.
Remember, this is a residential place and not all the locals are happy about the influx of tourists. The best you can do is keep quiet and be respectful – don’t touch or enter anyone’s property unless there are signs inviting you to do so.
Art You Should Not Miss in the Gamcheon Culture Village
The Gamcheon Culture Village is a pretty sight by itself, with many colourful houses covering the hill and spectacular views everywhere you go. But don’t forget to watch out for all the interesting art! Every piece of art in the village has a story behind it so read and learn besides taking photos. 😉 There is also a small history museum and some photo exhibitions in Gamcheon.
Here are a few artworks I loved in the Culture Village:
“The Fish of Gamcheon”
With Korea’s largest seafood market, Busan is the city of fish so it’s only appropriate that you can find a lot of fish art all over the Gamcheon Village. Here they symbolise the mothers of Gamcheon who made life possible during hard times. They took care of their families by going to the market every day to sell fish, then cooking for them in the evenings. These wooden fish were created by residents and visitors of the village.
“The Little Prince and the Fennec Fox”
The statue of the Little Prince overlooking the Gamcheon Village is the most popular spot because who doesn’t love the Little Prince?! Be prepared to queue for your photo.
The Book Staircase (leading to Cheon Deok Su’s Well)
Hidden in a little corner of the village, a paradise for all bookworms awaits! This spot is just too good not to take pictures…
“The Stairs to See Stars”
These 148 stairs in the middle of the Gamcheon Culture Village were surprisingly empty – other tourists either didn’t discover them or weren’t too interested in climbing stairs, but I found them really cool! You can see different art depending on whether you are going up or down.
And the staircase is called “The Stairs to See Stars” because people used to feel dizzy (and see stars) when climbing the stairs and carrying heavy stuff.
“Memories of a Rainy Day”
(At least I think that’s what it was called. And if I remember correctly, the author was expressing memories of his childhood and rainy days.) This one was slightly hidden from the main streets and I just randomly stumbled upon it. But what a gem!
“Becoming One with Gamcheon”
This is a popular art overlooking the whole village (almost opposite the Little Prince).
These are just a few examples. The village has so much more art, it’s impossible to mention everything! Just get lost in the Gamcheon’s streets and explore. Here are some more photos to inspire your visit 😉
Are you a fan of colourful towns? I think you’ll love my post from Vietnam’s Hoi An, too!
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