Gamcheon Culture Village Busan: What to See & Do
If you are visiting Busan, chances are, you’ve probably seen Gamcheon Culture Village on many different guides. The vibrant colors of the hillside houses, the many different art installations, and the authentic vibe make this village so popular among visitors. Yes, Gamcheon Culture Village is an absolute must when in Busan.
- Address: 203, Gamnae 2-ro, Saha-gu, Busan (부산광역시 사하구 감내2로 203)
- Operating hours: March-October 09:00-18:00 / November-February 09:00-17:00
* Operating hours based on attraction facilities within Gamcheon Culture Village
* Limited access to certain facilities due to COVID-19 under further notice.
- Inquiries: +82-51-204-1444 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
- Website: gamcheon.or.kr (Translation provided by online translator)
Why visit Gamcheon?
The colorful houses of the hillside neighborhood Gamcheon in Busan we see today trace back to the 1950s. During the Korean War, thousands of refugees fled their homes to find safety in Busan, the only place on the Korean peninsula that remained free from fighting.
In less than a year, the population of Busan doubled, and thousands of homeless refugees needed a place to live. These people started building makeshift huts out of iron, wood, and even rocks. Slowly, these homes were built up into the brick-and-concrete Lego-like houses that we see today.
By the 1990s, little progress had come about in Gamcheon, and it was still the poorest area of Busan. In 2009, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism created the Dreaming of Machu Picchu in Busan project, undertaking significant reparations and hiring artists to paint murals and create art installations around Gamcheon.
What is life like in Gamcheon?
The majority of the people living in Gamcheon are seniors. Due to Gamcheon’s hillside location, most of the houses are hard to reach – many alleys aren’t big enough for cars to enter. That’s why a free shuttle bus service called “Gamcheon Happy Bus” runs to and from subway stations and to the downtown area of Busan.
Residents who live in old houses in the village also have access to a house repair service. This includes painting and papering walls, ceilings, and floors.
Some of the houses in Gamcheon are so small that there isn’t even space for a bathroom. That’s why you will encounter several community bathrooms around the village.
For those families that do decide and stay in Gamcheon, the government provides school support programs for their children. This includes support for the lunch costs during vacations, education program operation expenses, and scholarships to support the young students of Gamcheon.
When to Visit Gamcheon Culture Village
There is no bad time to visit Gamcheon per se, but a weekday is a lot quieter than a visit during the weekend. The best time to visit Gamcheon Culture Village is early in the morning, even on weekdays.
9 AM in the morning is a good time to arrive and start your tour of the village. This is also when the tourist center opens, and you can grab a paper map of the village.
If you want to see a different side of the village, I recommend checking out this Busan night tour.
Photography tips for Gamcheon Culture Village
When visiting Gamcheon Culture Village in the morning, the best photos will be from the southeast side of the village. Instead of taking the main entrance to the village, continue left down the road until you reach another, smaller entrance. The views from there will be the best as the sun lights up the village from the perfect angle.
In the afternoon, head to the western side of the village (called Gamnsae 2-ro). This is the best place to avoid shooting against the sun. It only takes 5 minutes to reach this location from the main entrance.
You best start your journey at the Gamcheon Information Center (마을안내센터). There, you can pick up a detailed map of the area to navigate your way through the many alleyways of the village.
From the main gate, continue straight. This is sort of the main street of Gamcheon with the most shops, restaurants, and viewpoints.
This is the first main viewpoint you should check out. Climb all the way to the top following the “하늘마루” signs and you will reach the rooftop of this building overlooking the entire village.
The Haneul Maru observatory offers a bird’s-eye view of the stunning blue Gamcheon Port, and the Ognyeo Peak and peak of Mt. Cheonma. From here, one can get a panoramic view of the beautiful landscape of the village’s colorful houses in neatly arranged blocks along narrow alleyways.
Little Prince and Fennec Fox
Don’t miss one of Gamcheon’s most Instagrammable statues, Little Prince and Fennec Fox.
What they are referring to is a wall mural of the Little Prince on a building beside a Little Prince statue of him and his pet. The Little Prince statue is placed facing an overlook of Busan Gamcheon Culture Village; gazing at the wonderful colors and ocean below him.
Both the Little Prince wall mural and statues are available for free pictures. They are unusual and beautiful, but not without a price. As the Little Prince is the most popular thing to see in Gamcheon Culture Village there will be a line to get to him. Prepare to wait in line for your chance to sit between The Little Prince and his pet for your chance to have a picture of your back taken. Also bring a photographer; one is not provided!
I Love Gamcheon
Very close to the Little Prince statue, you can find another pretty photo zone, the “I Love Gamcheon” sign.
The Book Staircase
Hidden in a little alleyway of the village, a paradise for all bookworms awaits! This staircase is just too good not to take pictures. Every step is painted in a different color representing some of the best books ever written.
Cheon Deok Su’s Well
At the top of the Book Staircase, you will find Cheon Deok Su’s Well. This mural tells the story of when Gamcheon Culture Village was facing a period of drought and of how local residents Cheon Deok Su persistently dug a well in the center of the village.
Don’t Forget The Side Alleys
Don’t only stick to the main street when exploring Gamcheon. There are so many little alleyways all over the village that provide great insight into life in Gamcheon. You’ll see tiny convenience stores, locals drying chili peppers on the rooftops, and the postman struggling to maneuver his car around the narrow roads.
Don’t forget to be respectful and not to be loud or litter where locals live.
Where to Stay at Gamcheon Culture Village
There are two guesthouses directly in Gamcheon: Banga Banga Guesthouse and Gamna Ulter Guesthouse. You can find some info here, but you’ll probably need to call to make a booking.
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