Relau is believed to have been named after charcoal kilns or relau which were located there. The area is mostly agricultural until the early 1980's, when the land began to be cleared for development. Probably the most famous building until then was the villa built there by the last Kapitan Cina of Perak, Chung Thye Pin. Known as the Relau Villa, it is today in a dilapidated state.
By the 1990's much of Relau has transformed into residential estates, mostly in the form of apartments ranging from low to medium cost. To cater to the surrounding needs, the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) created the Metropolitan Park. It has recreational facilities for the people living on the southern part of Penang Island.
Relau is a landlocked, with the hills of Paya Terubong to the north of it. Access is through Jalan Paya Terubong from the north, Jalan Dato Ismail Hashim from the south, and Tingkat Bukit Jambul from the east.
Traffic is very heavy on the main road especially during the morning and evening rush hour. A large amount of the traffic comes from vehicles passing through Relau from Air Itam and Paya Terubong. The flow is southbound in the morning, as workers head to Bayan Lepas for work, and in the opposite direction in the evening. This often cause much congestion at the Relau junction as well as at the junction of Persiaran Bukit Jambul with Jalan Dato Ismail Hashim.
Relau is one of the places where you can get relatively inexpensive housing. However, you need to bear with the heavy traffic during rush hour. On the plus side, Relau is relatively close to many shopping malls. Schools are also relatively closeby.
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