Today, I’m finally getting around to recapping our final excursion from our Thanksgiving trip to Busan! While we were only in Busan for a quick four-day weekend, we saw and explored a lot, and I’m grateful for it because it’s definitely a bit of a trip from Camp Humphreys. It’s a four-hour drive to Songdo Beach where we stayed and, barring the Goseong Dinosaur Museum, most of the adventures we did were in the general area (like Haedong Yonggungsa Temple by the sea). One of my favorite trips though? Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan. It was beautiful!
Gamcheon Culture Village (감천문화마을) in Busan
It’s easy to see why Busan’s Gamcheon Culture Village consistently ranks among the 100 must-visit spots in South Korea. Just 25(ish) minutes from Busan’s city center, Gamcheon Culture Village is a residential community located high in the mountains. While it’s beautiful and colorful today, it’s deeply rooted in one of the hardest times in South Korea’s history.
During the Korean War, people moved to Gamcheon Culture Village to survive the war near the port – but removed enough to avoid the hardest hit areas. It was a place of hard living – hard fought and hard earned, and today, its rich cultural roots are displayed vibrantly and colorfully on the buildings’ facades. Local residents and artists have transformed it into an artistic masterpiece worthy of travelers from around the world.
Why Gamcheon Culture Village is Popular
If there’s one thing that Korea embraces wholeheartedly, it’s photo-ops. Gamcheon Culture Villa is a burst of vibrant heritage that instagrammers around the world flock to – and they’re not disappointed. Gamcheon features dozens (if not more) of murals, statues, and street art worthy of any instagram feed. Our pro tip though? Skip the busy ones like the Harry Potter stairs, and simply immerse yourself in the colorful alleyways to see what the village is really like.
Visitors entering the village can also purchase a map for W2,000 on which they can get stamps at little mailboxes throughout the village, marking the different sites and scenes they visited. We didn’t see them all, but it was fun to meander slowly along, sample the local fare, and try to win over all the alley cats along the way.
What to Do at Gamcheon Culture Village
Honestly, the sky is the limit here! We had no set plans, but we definitely sampled the local fare including the ice cream – black chocolate is a must! – and our friends even tried a frozen beer float and said it was divine! We visited the building with locks and wishes, we purchased our Chinese Zodiac reading, we watched men and women work together to move coal from one location high in the village to a place down below. We just explored. You don’t need a set itinerary…just go!
Tips for Visiting Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan
Cost: Visiting the village is free, but parking is paid and varies by the parking lot you choose. We found a little lot down the hill that was W5,000 for two hours. Bring cash to park wherever you choose or find availability.
Accessibility: Much of the village is actually accessible for those with mobility issues, though you’ll want to avoid some of the buildings built higher on the hill, as those are only accessible by stairs. The tourist area, however, is mostly one long street that you can easily navigate. Some sights, like Stairs to See Stars, feature over 100 steep steps, so you’ll just want to stick to the areas along the main strip. That said, wear comfortable shoes! You’ll do a lot of walking!
Hours: Gamcheon Culture Village is open 24/7 all year around but the individual businesses have their own hours. The Tourist Information Center is open 9 AM to 6 PM daily.
Address: In Waze – 203, Gamnae 2-ro, Saha-gu, Busan, South Korea; In Naver or Kakao – 부산광역시 사하구 감내2로 203