The third of three main tourist attractions that I visited during my time in Busan was the Gamcheon Culture Village, a village renowned for its colourful buildings and street art. It has been used many time as the setting for some famous Korean TV dramas, but the reason I wanted to visit was because it seemed to be the Korean version of the ever-popular Balamory (real name Tobermory. Remember it?)
To get there, I had to take the subway to a certain stop whose name I cannot remember right now, then catch a bus from outside a medical centre. The bus ride was, quite frankly, terrifying. We had to drive through all these tiny streets up some of the steepest hills I’ve ever seen a bus go. The hills weren’t even that steep when we went halfway up a freakin’ mountain to get to Beomeosa temple! But we eventually made it and I hopped off the bus next to the visitor centre.
At the main entrance to the village there is a map with the route to see the sights, so I took a photo of this on my phone and headed off with my camera in my hand.
The first thing you notice about the village are all the little statues sitting on walls and on the rooftops. Some are pretty little birds, but some are strange human-bird hybrid things which were pretty creepy on further inspection.
There is lots of art all around the village – murals, sculptures, mosaics, paintings on stairways and on the roads. It was super cool to see so much colour and fun around the place.
Speaking of colour, the main attraction is, of course, all the colourful houses. While you get the strong feeling that Gamcheon is a much poorer part of Busan, with all the higgledy-piggledy houses and steep, cramped construction (it reminds me a little of a Brazilian shanty town), Gamcheon is still very beautiful.
Along the walk there are a variety of cafés, restaurants and little souvenir shops. I stopped in a cute little open-air café at the top of the hill and sat myself in a seat at the edge of the terrace looking down over the village. From the top, you can see all the way down through the town and out to the sea (as you can see in the photo above). From my high vantage point, I also got to see two little kittens playing on the roof of one of the houses.
It was an interesting sensation walking around, much like walking around a stately home or visiting a house you might buy in the future – I always felt like I was intruding a little, and like I had to be a little bit careful of where I walked. While Gamcheon is most definitely a tourist attraction, it is primarily the place of work and residence for many people, a fact that makes itself known particularly in the form of pets and grocery stores.
I didn’t venture too far as I was worried I would get lost and or/go too far and leave the tourist attraction, so I wasn’t there for too long. A couple of hours at the most. Quite a few of the shops were closed, otherwise I would have pottered around and had a look at the crafts on offer and spent more time enjoying the quiet little place.
I would definitely recommend Gamcheon Culture Village to anyone visiting Busan. It is easy to access and provides a lovely, free tourist activity for a morning or a mid-late afternoon.
Have you ever been to Gamcheon Culture Village, or somewhere similar? Would you ever like to go?
This is a post in my South Korea Second-Timer series. Read the rest here!:
My Holiday Bucket List
Part 1: Plane Panic and, um, Personal Space Please?
Part 2: Welcome to Busan!
Part 3: Hwamyeong, a Temple, and Being Spend Happy
Haedong Yonggungsa 해동용궁사 – The Water Temple
Beomeosa 범어사 – Temple of the Nirvana Fish
Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁