The Gamcheon Culture Village is one of the most visited neighbourhoods in Busan, South Korea. As I planned my 2-day stay in the city, I knew that this colourful village was one stop I did not want to miss. Before visiting, I tried to do as much research as I possibly could and found that this destination was hit-or-miss for many tourists.
I guess that’s quite expected with popular places but I was determined to have a fantastic time in the village and in South Korea in general!
I arrived in Busan after a 3-hour bus ride from Namwon and decided to visit the Gamcheon Culture Village on my second morning there – the same day I was leaving for Seoul. Getting there was very easy using public transportation.
How to Get to Gamcheon Culture Village
First things first, if you are planning to visit South Korea independently, you should download the Naver navigation app.
At the time of this writing, Google Maps does not work well in the country and Naver is helpful to tell you which trains and buses to take to get to your destination.
Using this app, I was able to make my way from Seomyeon Station to Toseong Station. As with all metro stations in Korea, there were clear signs for which exits to take to get closer to a destination. In this case, it was Exit 6 and just outside it, is a bus station (near the Busan Cancer Center), where I caught the No.2 bus to the village.
Related: 7 Apps to download before travelling to South Korea.
PS: If you are visiting later in the day, chances are that the buses will be at capacity. It might be worth your while to hail a cab, especially if you are travelling with a group.
Brief Gamcheon Culture Village History
Gamcheon Culture Village was originally a settlement for refugees who fled from the Korean War in the early 1950s. After an art-themed transformation project initiated by the Busan City Government in 2009, the village has now grown to be one of the most visited places in Busan.
You can read more about its history here.
South Korea Travel Resources
Getting a visa to South Korea
Solo Tripping in South Korea – The Beginning
A simple travel checklist for first-time visitors
Buy a SIM card online and pick it up at the airport
Rent your Hanbok online
Hanok Stay Experience in Namwon
Because of its popularity and depending on the time you visit, the village tends to get quite crowded and “touristy”. Therefore, if you plan to visit, here are some tips, based on my preferences, on how to do so to optimize for a great time.
How to Visit and Things to Do in Gamcheon Culture Village
I am more of a night owl and prefer to sleep in on most days but when it comes to visiting certain places, the early bird catches the worm. Gamcheon Culture Village is one such place and at 8 am when I arrived, the neighbourhood was quiet and calm and the weather conditions were perfect!
I enjoyed strolling around the hilly village quietly while enjoying the beautiful views and vantage points all around. By the time the crowd began to trickle in around 2-3 hours later, I had completed my circuit.
If I had left at this point, I would have been contented with my visit but with a little more time to spend in Busan, I decided to linger. I bought a map from the visitor’s centre and chose a circuit, collecting free postcards along the way.
I thought this was a pretty neat idea as the map guides visitors to all the best parts of the neighbourhood. Since I had already walked around the village, I chose the shortest circuit and visited the places I had missed earlier.
Stalls had opened up and more tourists had trooped in by the time I was done. Long lines were beginning to form at photo locations and the once-quiet neighbourhood became vibrant and loud.
PS: I’m guessing that the residents are not too happy about this. So if you do visit, be sure to respect their privacy and keep the noise level down, especially when you pass by their homes.
I found my way back to the entrance, looking for a cafe with a view of the village to have breakfast at. Seeing that it was closed, I ducked into the nearest restaurant I could find and ordered a bowl of seafood ramyeon. This unplanned stop was another highlight of my visit to Gamcheon Culture Village.
The meal was delicious and the owner was friendly. He spoke a little English and I attempted to relay some words I had learned from watching too much Kdrama and starting the Korean course on Duolingo! It was good fun 🙂
After my meal, I found my way back to the city, and then to Busan Station to catch the KTX train to Seoul.
How to Visit Gamcheon Culture Village – Summary
In summary, I found that visiting this village early in the day (on a weekday) and enjoying a leisurely stroll, sometimes losing my way, was a wonderful way to see it. The treasure map from the visitor’s centre was also an interesting way to ‘spice up’ the visit and learn a little bit more about the village.
Restaurant and shopping options are available but limited within the village, so plan accordingly if you go. Remember that this is a neighbourhood with real residents, the highlight of a visit here is the colourful buildings seen from different vantage points. Therefore, you should set your expectations correctly in order to have a pleasant experience.
Have you visited or would you visit the Gamcheon Culture Village?