Visiting Korea's Santorini, Gamcheon Culture Village

Out of the many attractions in Busan, the Gamcheon Culture Village is definitely one of my favourite. Dubbed the Santorini of Korea, this village sits on the hills near the outskirts of Busan, overlooking both the sea and city. The village is easily identifiable from afar, with its colourful and vibrant buildings.

The village was not always this colourful though. Beneath its bright and cheerful colours, the village originally started out as a slum for the poor, with its tight alleyways and cramped buildings. Conditions were far from good.

Things took a change for the better when a group of students descended upon the village with paintbrushes, paving the way to the village becoming one of the top tourist destinations in Busan.

Today, tourists can walk through the streets of Gamcheon and admire the beautiful sceneries during their visit. There are numerous cafes, souvenir shops, art installations and photo spots around the village to keep visitors entertained.

For a really immersive experience, visitors can purchase the Gamcheon Village map for 2,000 won, which comes with 3 recommended routes and also a Stamp Hunt in which you can collect stamps from locations around the village that you can exchange for free postcards. 

We bought the map during our visit and decided to go full completionist mode, opting for the 2 hours route and vowing to complete the Gamcheon Cultural Village Stamp Hunt.  The journey took us away from the main tourist spots and through the narrow alleys of the village, giving us a glimpse of what the village life is like.

Beneath the hype and tourist attractions, Gamcheon is still very much a village for its residents, where people live their daily lives. There were signs advising visitors to be respectful of the village as we explored the place. Walking through the houses of the people living there made me appreciate my own life back in Singapore more.

Houses in Gamcheon are generally small, where you'll have to duck your head inside the house to avoid hitting the ceiling. Some of the paths in front of the houses can only fit one person walking at any one time, a far cry from my comfortable life.

Still, it was an eye-opening experience in Gamcheon. It was something unique that I have never experienced before, a combination of a scavenger hunt with both tourist and local elements, bringing the visitor to see a different perspective on life.

Gamcheon Culture Village is definitely one of the must-visits in Busan, Korea. No matter if you like hipster stuff, artistic stuff, adventure stuff or local immersion stuff, Gamcheon has a little of everything.  Just make sure that you are wearing comfortable shoes during your visit :)

To get to Gamcheon, simply take the metro to Toseong Station and then take Bus 2 or Bus 1-1 from the hospital. You can also view my Google Review of the village here.

Have you visited villages similar to Gamcheon before? Do share your experiences!


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