It's been almost two weeks since am back from my Korea trip, it was a really dream-comes-true kinda trip as I managed to tick off a few items from my bucket list! I will definitely pen down everything that I've experienced during the entire trip but let me talk about this most talked about place in Busan - Gamcheon Culture Village (부산 감천문화마을) - that also known as "Santorini of the East", "Machu Picchu" and even the "Favelas".
Fun Fact: Gamcheon Culture Village "Stair To See Stars" has 148 steps and was called this because people would become dizzy and see stars from carrying up heavy loads.
All this while, I only see all the pastel-ish picturesque photos on Google and Instagram, to be able to visit this place seemed quite surreal to me. Actually, it's pretty surreal for me to finally visit KOREA, one of my dream countries to visit. What makes it even better was the weather, it's fall/autumn season, hence the pleasant chilly weather that perfect for an adventure!
Prior to my visit, I did some research about this place and it's kinda like mixed reviews, some said it wasn't really worth their visit, while some said it was the best place to visit, etc. Though, I have high expectation for this place after seeing all the amazing photos online and it turned out not bad. It's definitely NOT just about taking tons of photos of the entire village. But first, it's really important to wear comfortable flat shoes if you plan to visit Gamcheon Culture Village, the reason being not only because there will be a lot of walking, but also climbing up the steep and narrow staircases in this village.
Unless you have tons of time to explore this entire village or have a local tour guide with you, it is recommended to drop by the tourist center to get yourself a map of the entire village routes. This way, you're able to plan your routes and important checkpoints to visit and also get to avoid to not getting lost halfway.
Oh! Trust me, there are tons of places within the village that perfect for OOTD kind of shots and very Instagram-worthy too! Gamcheon Culture Village is a hub for artists and art students who constantly create projects to be exhibited at the village. For example, this picture above featuring the mural of a huge fish made up of painted wooden fishes is part of the "Culture Garden" series that called on the villagers to contribute a piece of their creativity. And, if you really pay attention throughout your adventure exploring this village, you would see pieces of these wooden fish strewn all around the village as path pointers that also, in a way able to help you find your way out.
cute direction signs everywhere
As you start walking up through the alleys, you will be able to see quite a number of few different houses with different themes. Though, they are not placed at the same area, hence the fun part about exploring this entire village, surprises are everywhere. All of us were in awed every single time when our tour guide shows us different houses. Yes, these are the houses that some of the villagers have left and the government turned it into something interesting for the tourists. It's interesting in a way you'll get to learn about how tiny space the villagers are staying here, or maybe what are the tools they use back in the olden days, etc.
One of the above photos showing the example of the house that each family stays in this village. It's super tiny, it's probably only the size of my entire bedroom. Due to limited space, they actually sharing a few toilets in this entire village. Most of them have to wake up super early in order to be able to use the toilet/bathroom to get ready for their work and school.
Of course, there are a lot of cafes and shops in the village too! Some of the hipster cafes look really awesome, too bad we didn't have much time for a stop. If you have the time, do give it a try as I read some reviews of the cafes in this village were great too!
There are shops selling souvenirs, cute phone accessories, fashion accessories, clothing, etc. I wasn't quite sure about the pricing here, but from what I see in a shop, they are actually quite reasonable, though not as cheap as those in the main shopping street. I guess it's really okay if you're getting souvenirs that resemble Gamcheon Culture Village as it can be quite hard to find these at the city.
I mentioned earlier about the steep and narrow staircases throughout the entire village, and it is tiny too. There's no any shortcut to go to the bird's eye view checkpoint area, you just gotta climb up your way to up there. It can be a little bit tiring, but as you climb up, you'll get to see different things from your left and right, hence you won't really feel the tiredness.
Do not get the freak out if you accidentally entered the residential area where you'll get to meet the local villagers. Of course, due to it is the road less taken by the tourists, you probably won't be seeing tourists in this area, unless those got lost halfway whilst exploring the village. It's very quiet and the cats were everywhere at there and you gotta be careful not to step on any cat's poop! Though I must say that I really enjoyed getting a glimpse of how the local villagers plant their own little plant in pots; having pets; drying their clothes out in the tiny alley; having mini gardens outside their houses, etc. They don't talk to you not because they are unfriendly, but you know, you probably will feel uneasy having strangers walking around your housing area too.
artsy-fartsy murals are everywhere, and it's quite impossible to take picture of EVERY SINGLE ONE of them!
Now, who would expect to be able to take some yolo pictures with the Little Prince and Fox in Gamcheon Culture Village!? Here's a tip, go there early or you will need to queue just to take pictures at this spot! And it kinda less fun that you've to rush in taking those photos with the statues because there are a lot of people waiting behind the lines.
couples get to do some sweet couple thing here too!
In case you're wondering, Gamcheon Culture Village was established by refugees from the Korean war back in the 50s, resulting in a very run down area until it was transformed into an arts and culture village in 2010. The village, on the side of a very steep hill, is an offbeat art-filled suburb that has emerged from the depths of poverty to become one of Busan's more unique architectural and cultural locations.
The truth is... there's actually a few checkpoints to get the bird's eye view of the entire Gamcheon Culture Village. Here's one of it. It can be a bit tricky to take the picture from this point as there are a lot of other tourists trying to take their pictures and selfies with the amazing views too. However, I personally think the view from this point wasn't the best and in fact, it didn't justify the picturesque view of Gamcheon Culture Village. Most of the amazing photos that you've seen on Google definitely weren't taken from this point. I was feeling a little bit disappointed at this point until we reached another checkpoint with the platform where one of the episodes of Running Man were filmed in Gamcheon Culture Village!
I'm with our ever so cheerful tour guide, Mrs Kim
This is the another platform that gives you the real amazing picturesque view of Gamcheon Culture Village! Seeing all the mini houses in the burst of pastel coloring were so satisfying! I'M IN LOVE! And surprisingly, there are not many tourists at this platform too! I wondered why, is it because they thought they have already got the bird's eye view from the previous platform is the only platform to view the entire village? Well, I'm not really sure about this.
Another reason to visit Gamcheon Culture Village is to be able to stand at the very same platform where your favorite Running Man member stood before! Well, I guess this only applicable to the hardcore fans of Running Man, e.g. yours truly.
We only had an hour time slot to explore the entire village and thankfully we have our tour guide with us who managed to bring us check out all the main checkpoints. I will definitely come back here again and the next time I come back, it probably going to be myself enjoy the fun of getting lost in this beautiful village! Again, it's really NOT just about taking photos everywhere, but also learning at least one or two interesting things in and about the Gamcheon Culture Village.
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ADMISSION FEE: FREE
VISITING TIME: 9am - 5pm
HOW TO GET THERE (by Public Transportation)
- Take Subway Line 1 (accessible from Busan Station) to Toseong Station.
- Come out from Exit 6.
- You will be facing an intersection. TURN RIGHT at the corner and walk straight. You will see a hospital on your right. The BUS STOP is right in front of the hospital.
- Take either Bus 2 or 2-2. This will take you to Gamcheon Culture Village.