This article has partner links that I may receive compensation from at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my site by using them!

One of the highlights of Busan is Gamcheon Culture Village. In recent years, artists & residents have turned what was once a hilltop slum into a beautiful lively neighborhood. Gamcheon is located outside of central Busan, but it’s fairly easily accessed by the city’s metro system.

How to get to Gamcheon Culture Village

I took the Metro south from Beomnaegol station, which is where I was staying in a love hotel, to Toseong station. One cool aspect of South Korea‘s technological leadership is that the same electronic travel card from Seoul also works in Busan. I wish more places would be in sync like this so everyone doesn’t have to keep buying separate cards everywhere they go. From Exit 6 or 8 from the metro station, there are plenty of signs directing you to Gamcheon Culture Village. You can either follow the main streets called Kkachigogae-ro & Okcheon-ro to the village, or you can find a less-trodden (and steeper) route through the hills. There are also local buses, if you want to save your hill walking energy. You can also visit Gamcheon Culture Village as part of a Busan day tour.

gamcheon stairway 700x933

I followed the main road for a bit but then took a stairway straight into the neighborhood. This area isn’t officially part of Gamcheon Culture Village, but some houses are still painted colorfully. There was also this tiled mural bus stop.

gamcheon tiled bus stop 700x525

After my nice steep walk through the town, I reached the bridge over the road that signifies the entrance to Gamcheon Culture Village.

gamcheon culture village sign 700x525

Here I found this somewhat-creepy sign that stated “we inform you that there is a plan to build memorial place in the future after collecting the tombstones scattered all over the place.”

Book your hotel in Busan now!

gamcheon culture village tombstone sign 700x525

Considering I had just arrived & had not encountered anything other than a normal town, I was left with many questions.

Hiking in the parks near Gamcheon Culture Village

It’s here that my trip took an unintended diversion. The bridge over the road looks like an entrance, so I walked up to the top of it & picked one of the two directions to go, expecting to find Gamcheon. I chose wrong, but what I found is a nice walk to include as part of your visit to the area. If you head south, there is a large park with views looking out over the city.

I kept walking uphill towards a green area, ending up at Cheonmasan Sculpture Park. The park is enormous, heading south for several kilometers south of Gamcheon. I walked for a while, though not through the entire thing since the park is so large. There is a service road and several hiking trails. I followed the service road up for a while, hoping for a clear view, but instead just saw lots of trees. Whatever the case, it’s a nice escape from the city below. Occasionally, I could see the buildings in between the forested areas.

cheonmasan sculpture park 700x525

I realized I was near the top of the hill, so I kept going up some stairs. There was an outdoor gym where several older men worked out among the trees. Here I was along the ridgeline, so I could now see down through the trees in both directions. Continuing along this ridgeline, I eventually found myself at a viewing platform with a fantastic panoramic view of Busan.

gamcheon park overlook busan 700x525
busan panorama 700x338

While I had gotten lost while trying to find Gamcheon Culture Village, I was glad that I had found this view. It was worth the climb to get to the top of the hill. As lovely as the view was, it would be even more impressive on a sunny, clear day. On the day I visited, grey clouds were building across Busan.

busan south korea 700x700

Visiting Gamcheon Culture Village

Heading back to the bridge, I finally found Gamcheon Culture Village. The village is actually on the north side of the bridged street, past the bridge, though the signs don’t quite make this clear. Once I realized where I had gone wrong, I found it easily. At the entrance to the village, there is a tourist information center that sells maps of the neighborhood for 2000 won. If you skip it, there are still plenty of signs & maps along the way.

gamcheon culture village map 700x933

Just inside Gamcheon, there are important signs that you should take the time to read. While the neighborhood has become a tourist destination, it’s important to realize that this is still an area where people live and work. Follow the etiquette guide and be sure not to intrude on the locals. As pretty as the neighborhood itself now is, they’re not zoo animals to be gawked at.

gamcheon culture village history 700x933
gamcheon culture village etiquette 700x525

My first stop was a little museum with a history of the area. Most of the information was in Korean, but the old photos of the neighborhood didn’t need translating.

gamcheon culture village museum 700x525

The main path through Gamcheon Culture Village is easy to follow. Even though it may not feel like it, this is still an active street, so watch out for cars. The walls lining it are covered with murals & other art.

gamcheon culture village whale 700x525
gamcheon culture village mural 700x467
gamcheon culture village birds 700x467
gamcheon culture village viewpoint 700x525
gamcheon culture village heart 700x467

This main road is also dotted with food stands and tourist shops. You can make your own postcards and art. A gift shop had items made in the village, and another sold traditional Korean paper art.

gamcheon culture village shop 700x525

Alleyways branch off of the main street, leading to shops and viewpoints. Along the way, there are also small museums and art galleries. One had photos of locals, and another was this dark room with coiled walls.

gamcheon culture village art gallery 700x933

Above this was an observation deck with great views over the entire village. Unfortunately, it was overcast, so the colorful buildings were a bit hard to capture in their full glory, but you can still get a sense of how vibrant the neighborhood is.

gamcheon culture village views 700x525

Winding my way along the main road once again, I passed food stands selling fried dough, grilled seafood, fish cakes, and more.

gamcheon culture village street food 700x525

At one point, I veered off, following signs for a temple that was up a hill on a side street. Unfortunately, it was closed, but someone was walking out of it with a dog, then other dogs tagged along.

gamcheon culture village dogs 700x700

The main road continues its circle above the valley. This main path is relatively flat for most of the way around. More viewpoints here allow for even better photos of Gamcheon Culture Village since the sunlight will be at your back.

gamcheon culture village 700x525

One of these viewpoints was a small tower called the Tower of the Pleasing Loneliness. Up a set of narrow stairs, there’s a nice view of the village through some slats.

tower of the pleasing loneliness gamcheon culture village 700x525

Another interesting stop was called the Grand Budapest Doll Hotel. It’s nice how local residents have embraced what their neighborhood has become, adding quirky sights into the mix. I wondered if there were people who lived there who were less enthusiastic about how Gamcheon was now a destination. On the whole, the changes seem to be positively received. This article does address both sides of the issue.

grand budapest doll hotel gamcheon culture village 700x525

This stretch of the main road also has other unique buildings. One is shaped like a teacup, with a handle on the side, and another has a lighthouse on top.

gamcheon culture village teacup lighthouse 700x525

Down a side staircase was one of the highlights of Gamcheon Culture Village. Here, you will find Cheon Deok Su’s wishing well, which is surrounded by beautiful murals, including bookshelves.

cheon deok su story 700x933
cheon deok su bookshelves 700x525
cheon deok su wishing well 700x875

Beyond here, it starts to get a bit quieter, though heading downhill, it becomes a wind tunnel. The wind was really starting to pick up.

At the House of Peace, visitors can write a message of peace on the wall. I think the wall is broken, since mine didn’t work.

gamcheon culture village house of peace 700x933

I continued following the main road down the hill, a bit too far I had found. There’s not much in this area. In fact, I should have continued along the path at the House of Peace rather than doubling back. The map was a little bit unclear on this. Eventually, I found myself in another small history museum. The museum had old photos of the Gamcheon from the 40s & 50s. It was interesting to see how much it has changed during the interim, from the Korean War to its modern status as Gamcheon Culture Village.

gamcheon culture village museum 700x525

From there, I headed back to the main entrance to Gamcheon. I then returned to Busan’s Toseong area, which has a few craft beer bars. While I was drinking, I received an emergency alert. I’d seen one on my phone earlier, but it was entirely in Korean, and I could not translate it. I somehow figured out that the warnings were for a super typhoon about to hit Busan around 3 am. That’s why it was so overcast all day and why the wind had been growing increasingly stronger. Despite this, people in Toseong & Jagalchi were out having a good time as if a deadly storm wasn’t arriving in a few hours. I stayed out for a while longer, then went to Paris Baguette for some storm provisions, then headed back to my hotel to ride out the storm.

Gamcheon Culture Village is one of the highlights of Busan. Despite the coming storm, I had an enjoyable day hiking around the nearby parks and exploring the village itself. While not everyone may agree, Gamcheon is a shining example of how a neighborhood can turn itself around & become something beautiful that benefits its residents.

gamcheon culture village busan 700x700
a visit to gamcheon culture village in busan south korea 491x1000

What do you think? Add a comment!