At first glance, Gamcheon Culture Village almost looks like a suburb in Latin America.
Colourful houses clustered along a house, with a maze of alleyways and staircases leading from house to house, are a common sight in cities like Rio de Janeiro and Medellin. But in South Korea?
Welcome to Gamcheon Culture Village, a district in Busan that has become truly unique. We are still amazed by how different this neighbourhood is compared to anything else we’ve seen in South Korea.
If you’re thinking about visiting (which you absolutely should), then check out our guide, which includes everything you need to know – from how to get here to the best things to do in Gamcheon.
Table of Contents
How to get to Gamcheon Culture Village
Detailed transport overview
Before you set out on your trip, you need to know that Google Maps doesn’t work well in South Korea.
We highly recommend downloading Naver Maps. This app has everything you need to navigate Busan and South Korea in general: maps, information on public transport and even pedestrian crossings. For our trip, we found it a lifesaver as it made moving around really easy.
Naver is available in English, and while some information will remain in Korean, the most important parts have been translated.
As Naver is so important in South Korea, we will provide map links both for Google Maps and Naver so you can easily navigate no matter which one you use.
Step 1: Getting to Toseong Station
The first step in getting to Gamcheon Culture Village is travelling to Busan. It’s a fantastic city, which should be on everyone’s South Korea itinerary. Gamcheon Village is one of its neighbourhoods.
In Busan, you can easily get around using the Metro and the local bus network. For getting to the Culture Village, you will need both.
Your first step is to head to Toseong Station. It is a metro station on the Orange Line, also called Line 1. You can look up all lines and stations on the Busan Metro Map.The easiest way to use public transport in South Korea is to use a T-Money card. You can buy those from machines at the metro station. After you buy the card, you need to recharge it. You can then use it on all public transport in Busan and also in many other places in South Korea.
Once you arrive at Toseong Station, you need to take Exit 6. At the exit, you will already see a sign towards Gamcheon Culture Village, so it’s easy to know that you’re in the right place.
For reference, below, we list some of the main locations in Busan and how to get to Toseong Station from each of them.
Haeundae to Gamcheon Culture Village
From Haeundae, you need to take the green line (line 2) in the direction of Yangsan.
Get off at Seomyeon and switch to the orange line (line 1) in the direction of Dadaepo Beach. It’s ten stops in total until Toseong Station. Get off there, take exit 6 and follow the instructions from step 2 below.
Seomyeon to Gamcheon Culture Village
Getting from Seomyeon to Gamcheon Culture Village is pretty straightforward. Just hop on the orange line (line 1) in the direction of Dadaepo Beach. Keep going for ten stops until you arrive at Toseong Station. Take exit 6 and then follow step 2 below.
Busan Station to Gamcheon Culture Village
From Busan Station, you need to head underground to the metro. Take the orange line (line 1) in the direction of Dadaepo Beach.
At Toseong Station, get off and take exit 6, then follow the instructions below.
Step 2: Getting to Gamcheon Culture Village
After you leave exit 6 of Toseong Station, turn to the right. You will see a hospital next to you.
Walk along the street next to the hospital for about 150 metres to get to a bus stop (Google Maps, Naver). At this bus stop, you need to take either bus Sahagu 1-1 [사하구1-1], Seogu 2 [서구2] or Seogu 2-2 [서구2-2]. All three buses go to Gamcheon Culture Village.
From Toseong Station, you can also walk to Gamcheon Village. It’s not far, only a bit more than 1 kilometre, but it’s a steep walk uphill. We took the bus because we don’t think the trouble is worth it, but it’s always an option.
Once you arrive at the Gamcheon Culture Village bus stop, you can already see the village and the first viewpoint from the bus stop.
Leaving Gamcheon Culture Village
Leaving Gamcheon Culture Village is pretty straightforward. Depending on which paths you walk along, you can just return to the bus stop where you arrived and take a bus back to Toseong Station.
Keep in mind that out of the buses that pass by this station, bus Sahagu 1 will NOT go all the way to Toseong Station. Instead, take one of the Sahagu 1-1 [사하구1-1], Seogu 2 [서구2] or Seogu 2-2 [서구2-2] buses.
Another option, if you decide to walk to the bottom of Gamcheon Village, is to catch the bus from there. The stop is called Gamcheon 2-dong Intersection [감천2동삼거리] (Naver link only as the exact location of the bus stop is not on Google Maps), and you can take the same buses as at the top of the village.
When you leave Gamcheon, head to the bus stop on the opposite side of the street, the one where you see vehicles driving uphill.
Gamcheon Culture Village History
Now that you know how to get to Gamcheon Culture Village, let’s dive into why you should visit.
Gamcheon started out as a small village in the 1920s when workers settled in the hills in an area close enough to the port to work there. The neighbourhood grew in size in the 1950s, during the Korean War, with the arrival of war refugees.
Those refugees belonged to an ascetic religious community called “Taegeukdo”, and the city of Busan ordered around 800 families to move to the area that is now Gamcheon.
While the layout of the village might seem chaotic, a lot of planning went into it. The community decided that no house should block the view of the house behind it, and all roads should be interconnected. Those principles don’t fully apply anymore, but if you get the chance to see an aerial view of the village, you can still see the carefully planned layout from back in the day.
The village struggled with poverty until, in 2009, an art project turned the neighbourhood into a tourist hotspot. While some locals had already painted their houses before, now, artists, residents and city planners got together to redecorate Gamcheon Village.
The efforts worked so well that now, Gamcheon is one of Busan’s major tourist attractions and one of the coolest places to visit in Korea.
Things to do in Gamcheon Culture Village
Gamcheon Culture Village has many interesting sights, and walking around the neighbourhood and getting lost in the tiny alleys is half the fun. Just remember that this is still a residential area, so try to be respectful, don’t step into any residential houses or climb any roofs, and try to keep your voice down.
Here are some of the fun things you can do in Gamcheon:
Buy the Gamcheon Culture Village map
The first thing you should do after arriving in Gamcheon Culture Village is buy a map. Okay, you can also go to that viewpoint just behind the bus stop, but after that, you should head to the tourist information centre (Google Maps, Naver) and buy a map.
First of all, that map will help you navigate the maze of Gamcheon village. It directs you to all of the viewpoints, and it gives you three ideas for a walking tour through the neighbourhood. Depending on how much time you have, you can either get a quick glimpse of Gamcheon or spend around two hours exploring every corner of it.
If you want to do the entire circuit, you can collect stamps at various points throughout Gamcheon and pick up some free postcards along the way.
Lastly, by buying the map, you give back to the community. Remember how we mentioned that Gamcheon used to be one of the poorest neighbourhoods around?
With the sale of maps and through running village businesses, the Residents Committee finances various services for local residents. These include a free shuttle bus service, a community bathhouse for those without space for a bath in their homes, a free laundry service for the elderly and support for education programs.
Admire the viewpoints
One of the cool things about Gamcheon Culture Village is that you can spend hours walking around, and you will constantly discover new viewpoints.
With its pastel houses and art installations, the village is incredibly photogenic.
Plus, if you watch K-Dramas, you might recognise some of the locations from your favourite show.
The most accessible viewpoint is just behind the bus stop you arrive at. But if you buy the map and follow the main road, you will get past many more of them.
Make sure to pass by the Haneul Maru, where you can climb the stairs and get to the top of the roof. When we visited, reservations were ongoing, but we still had an amazing view from the top.
Another viewpoint that we enjoyed was the Ocean Photo Zone. We mentioned that many port workers used to live in Gamcheon, and you can actually see the ocean and the harbour from the neighbourhood.
Hunt for street art (and other art installations)
If you like street art, then you’ve come to the right place. Keep your eyes open, and you’ll find lots of beautiful pieces of art along the way. We even saw artists painting one of the walls and creating new art!
The most popular (and also my favourite) art installation is the Little Prince and Fennec Fox. You might have to queue to take a picture here (we did), but it’s so cool to see them watch out over the village. Plus, those two statues are in a very convenient location, from where you have a fantastic view of Gamcheon.
Some art installations are large enough that they take up a whole house. The House of the Wind, for example, is placed in an empty house. If you follow the circuits on the map, you will come past it, and you can enter, enjoy the art and take some cool pictures with it.
Enjoy a hot or cold drink
A good way of giving back to the community is to purchase local products. And besides art and souvenirs, you can also get a drink or a bite to eat in one of the many cafes.
Many tourists stop in one of the cafes on the upper road. From here, you have a beautiful view of the village, but those cafes can also get very crowded.
We had a lemonade and a milkshake in a place called “Gamnaegol Hyanggi“. While we lacked the views, the cute interior and the nice owner made up for it. You can find this cafe on the lower main road, next to the Gamnae Small Baths.
Read your fortune
Have you ever wondered what your fortune will be?
On the upper main road, shortly before the statue of Little Prince and Fennec Fox, you can find a terrace where you can draw your fortune.
Buy a coin, throw it into one of the machines, and you’ll pick up a red ball. Inside, you’ll find a slip of paper which tells you your fortune.
Everything is in Korean, but we found it relatively easy to translate with Google Translate. Our main takeaway, from what I got from the translation, was that we are going to be happy together as a couple. What a relief!
As you can see, Gamcheon Culture Village is well worth a trip. Plus, it’s pretty straightforward to get there. We found it much easier than we had initially thought.
If you’ve been, leave us a comment below and tell us what you liked best!
Also, while you’re here, make sure to check out some of our other blog posts which you’re going to find useful:
Until your next adventure!
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