Gamcheon Culture Village, Busan’s artistic neighborhood

Gamcheon Culture Village

When I actually started thinking about a trip to Korea, what I had in mind was a quick weekend in Seoul. It only takes a couple of hours by flight from Tokyo to the Korean capital and with plenty of LCC offering flights at convenient hours and cheap fares, the thought of a weekend trip abroad was something I had been fantasizing for a while. So I booked a late flight (or should I say a super early flight since it was scheduled to take off at 1 am!!) from Haneda airport to Seoul Incheon and started gathering information about all the places I could visit in a bit more than 24 hours.

As you can imagine, with the day of my upcoming trip approaching, I was incredibly excited. How could I have imagined that my long yearned trip was just not going to happen (a least any time soon)?

On the very day of my departure, backpack ready and Lonely Planet in my hands, I headed to the airport, just to find out that my flight had been canceled. A typhoon had decided to hit Japan right on that weekend and destroy all of my plans. No need to say how disappointed I was.

And yet, now that I think of it, this unfortunate rescheduling of my trip turned out to be for the best. After all, hadn’t it been for that typhoon, I would have never discovered what is now my favorite place in South Korea.

About 6 months after my first attempt, I eventually managed to fly to Korea, this time for more than just a weekend. And since I had more than plenty of time to visit Seoul, why not explore the southern shores of the peninsula and the country’s second largest city?

This is how I ended up in Busan. This is how I stumbled across Gamcheon Culture Village.

Gamcheon Culture Village

Built on the steep foothills of Busan’s coastal mountains, Gamcheon Culture Village appears at first sight as a patchwork of colorful little houses.
The delicate pastel shades of the cute buildings make you feel like you suddenly left Asia and got catapulted to a Mediterranean village of Greece or Italy. How could I not feel home in such a familiar place? How could I not fall in love with such a spectacular view?

Not surprisingly, Gamcheon Culture Village is famously known as the Santorini of Korea. Other nicknames for this beautiful location also include Korea’s Machu Picchu and Lego Village.

But what today is a popular tourist destination was actually a poor hillside slum until not so long ago. It’s just in 2009 that the Village Art Project was launched and local artists started to turn Gamcheon-dong into a marvelous outdoor art exhibition. Since then, the village has attracted crowds of visitors.

Get lost in a maze of alleys!

Wandering around the narrow alleys and lanes of the village, you’ll encounter murals, wall paintings, sculptures, modern art galleries and many other lovely street artworks. No way that you will end up bored! On the contrary, I’m sure that you’ll find everything you see very interesting and exciting. This is exactly how I felt looking anywhere around me!

My friend and I lost our way a couple of times. And as usual, this turned out to be actually what I liked the most. Walking around without a destination in mind, enjoying the view of the cute lego houses surrounding us, appreciating the colorful decorations and the street art. The sun shining up in the sky. I couldn’t help but feel like in paradise.

Gamcheon Culture Village

This was without any doubt the most relaxing part of my Korean adventure! What’s even better is that we stepped away from the crowded main street and ventured into the less visited areas of the village. I loved climbing up and down the steps of these quiet and remote lanes!

Mind that there are people living here, so be always respectful and mindful of the residents’ privacy!

The only downside? We were not aware that you can get a map of the village and that you can collect stamps at the main sites, so we missed this part. But honestly, I don’t really mind. I’m more than satisfied just by having enjoyed the beautiful landscape, the spectacular colors, and our relaxing walk.
Anyways, now that you know about the stamps, if you’re interested you can get the map and stamp hunt card at the Tourist Information Center located at the entrance of the village.

My favorite shots!

Obviously, given how much I loved Gamcheon Culture Village, I was not surprised to see that most of the pictures of my Korean trip were actually taken there. Here’s a small gallery of my favorites!

Gamcheon Culture Village
Gamcheon Culture Village

How to get to Gamcheon Culture Village

From Busan station take the subway (Line 1) till Toseong Station. From exit 6, head towards the intersection, turn right and go straight until you pass Pusan National University Hospital. Take the bus (n.2 or 2-2 / the bus stop is right in front of the hospital) and get off at Gamcheon Elementary School.

Enjoy your visit!