When G’s Mum decided to come visit we decided it would be as good a time as any to be tourists in our own town. I imagine that this will be the first in a series of touristy adventures while she’s in town!
I had heard about this place from a few different blogs comparing it to Legoland, Machu Picchu, the Favelas in Brazil, and Korea’s Santorini (not because of the white buildings but because of the winding roads and houses on a hill overlooking the sea), and I had been trying to organize myself to take a trip there for months. Historically, Gamcheon was a place where people sought refuge during the Korean War. The small shacks were erected out of necessity and this has been a fairly poor area for many years. Having been to Haeundae quite recently, the difference in affluence is obvious.
Gamcheon Cultural Village is easily accessed by public transit in Busan. Take the subway to Toseong Station and take Exit 6. Take a right out of the subway, walk up the street past the hospital, and the bus stop is right outside. Get on the local bus Saha 1-1, Seogu 2 or Seogu 2-2 (they’re labeled GAMCHEON CULTURAL VILLAGE too!).
In the pictures online, the village seems wild and colourful. It is in person too, but it’s not as vivid and bold as I think I had expected. Once the bus took us to the top of the hill we were enchanted by rows upon rows of colourful, pastel houses.
We wandered down the hill following painted wooden plaques that make up a fish mosaic toward the exit.
You can take a variety of routes, and our back-alley, self-directed tour showed us a lot of modern, bizarre, and interesting art.
I always wonder why Korea has so many 7-11’s and no slurpees…
There are several cafes, ice cream shops, and places to get chicken or sausage on a stick. If you’re looking for souvenirs to bring back home as gifts then this is the spot to get all your “distinctly Korean” swag.
Most of the blogs had stated that this area was the most non-Korean thing you could do in Korea. Maybe it was the abundance of selfie sticks, but I certainly felt like I was still in Korea, just no longer in Busan. You could wander around this area for hours upon hours (just remember that people do actually live here so be respectful!) but I think we finished within about 2 hours.
This is a quirky, kitchy, wonderful place in which to get lost for a few hours. If you’ve got an adventurous spirit, then this would be a great spot to check out on a first date or when your parents are in town. It wasn’t very busy until we reached the top near the exit where all the cafes and galleries are located, but on a really gorgeous, sunny day I would venture out early! When you’re ready to leave, you can take a bus down the hill, taking you beyond Toseong and Jagalchi Market right into Nampo-dong. The bus lets you off at the end of the giant food market street so you can really make a day of the Fish Market, Gamcheon Cultural Village, and Nampo-dong!
You can read more about Gamcheon Cultural Village (and more Korean tourist attractions) on Visit Korea’s Website.