Nestled within Busan, Korea’s southern, ocean side city and the second largest in the country, is Gamcheon Culture Village.
While most people know this port city for its beach vibes and large jimjilbang, you’re missing out if you overlook the charming, brightly colored neighborhood. Some even call it Busan’s Santorini.
The bright, colorful homes are designed along a cliff side in a tiered layout so that they can all look over the harbor. You might also compare the idea to Rio de Janeiro’s favelas.
Whatever nickname you might give it, this little village is a stunning burst of colors.
And most people do not associate “stunning burst of colors” with many Korean places.
Gamcheon Culture Village History
According to CNN, the village grew in aftermath of the Korean War and was born out of a religion known as Taegeukdo. When Busan had 800 Taegeukdo families rebuild along the hillside, they built the village using the aforementioned tiered layout. This is due to their belief in allowing neighbors to prosper. By setting up the houses in tiers, no house blocks one another.
The pastel colors are also born out of the families’ own aesthetic preferences rather than as any sort of imitation.
Gamcheon was originally more of an impoverished area. However, in recent years Busan locals have put more effort in maintaining and allowing the village to grow.
Many of the abandoned homes have been turned into exhibition pieces, and the village now has a tourist course. You can buy an English map for about 2,000 won and just roam around, following the fish (pictured above) to different spots. There are even photo opp areas.
While a lot of Korea has become commercialized, it seems Gamcheon Culture Village is more of an off-the-beaten-path destination.
You won’t run into constant tour groups, and even the foreign faces are few and far between. If you go early enough (before noon), you might even find the village a bit less crowded.
Furthermore, because it is still very much a residential area, you won’t find it particularly noisy and the street vendors are kept to a minimum. Some local villagers turned abandoned houses into coffee shops or restaurants. Feel free to grab a coffee or purchase some souvenirs, knowing you’re supporting local!
More on Gamcheon Culture Village
How to Get There
To get to Gamcheon Culture Village, we took the subway from Busan Station (부산역) to Toseong Station (토성) along Line 1. Leave through Exit 6 and turn right when you’re facing the intersection. You’ll see a cancer center. The local bus stop is right in front of it. Take Bus 2 for about 1,000 won, and it will stop at the village after around 5-10 minutes. It’s quite a doozy of a bus ride. If you don’t mind spending about 3-4,000 extra won, just take a taxi.
Tours to Gamcheon
There are a few tours to Busan that will include Gamcheon. You can book them by clicking the links below:
- Busan City Tour (1 Day) – this will give you about an hour in the village
- Busan Night Tour (2 Days, 1 Night) – included in the West Course option
- Spring Special with Jinhae Cherry Blossoms + Busan (2 Days, 1 Night) – gives you about an hour or so in the village, first stop of the trip
Where to Stay in Gamcheon
It is possible to spend the night in the village as some Airbnb rentals have been popping up. You can also check here for Gamcheon neighborhood hotels. Otherwise, I’d recommend staying near Haeundae, since it’s more downtown (Check hotels here)
Have you been to Gamcheon Culture Village yet? Let me know what you think!
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