Situated in southeast Kuala Lumpur (KL), Cheras has grown from a once quiet suburb into a thriving township with excellent connectivity, vibrant and diverse communities, and a plethora of fun activities. Its old school charm combined with fast growing development have caused people and businesses to flock to the area, making it a great location to live, work, and entertain.
An origin story like no other
There are many origin stories about how Cheras got its intriguing name. Some say it comes from ‘Sungai Teras’ which runs through the area, while others attribute it to the Chinese mispronunciation of beras (rice), which was widely grown there in the late 1880s.
The quirkiest explanation involves an indigenous master of martial arts, Tok Perimbun, who was said to have lived in the area. Supporters of this story claim that Tok Perimbun had superhuman agility and speed. When he sprinted, the cloth of his pants would make the rushing sounds of ‘cheroh cheras’.
According to Nina Nasir, who spent her teenage years in Cheras as a student at SMK Perimbun, most people in her school and neighbourhood have heard of the Tok Perimbun legend.
“We have no idea if this is true, but it is still a funny and interesting story,” the risk advisory consultant adds.
History and connectivity
In the early 1900s, Cheras became a centre for the growing rubber plantation and tin mining industries, attracting many Hakka Chinese to the area. By the 1930s, two rows of 21 shophouses was built by a rubber merchant in Pudu Ulu, which serves as the town centre of Cheras. Today, this heritage site remains much-beloved.
In the early 20th century, the old Cheras and its town centre was home to only about 500 residents. Despite what would be considered proximity to KL by today’s standards, the name Pudu Ulu is likely to have been used to refer to the remoteness and backwater nature of the area as perceived by KL city dwellers at the time.
With the advent of ubiquitous car travel, Cheras’ location bordering KL is a clear advantage that led to a steady growth in the population of residents and businesses. As an area that straddles Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, Cheras is mainly connected by Jalan Cheras that runs into KL, and the Cheras-Kajang Expressway that connects the area to the wider Selangor state. It is also accessible via the Salak South Highway, Grand Saga Expressway and the Sungai Besi Highway.
In recent years, Cheras has seen an accelerated development centred around connectivity that has complemented its nostalgic charm. The LRT stations in the neighbourhood have been augmented by the newly built MRT system, which placed 11 out of its 31 stations in Cheras.
Both LRT and MRT stations have also had upgrades that seamless integrate them to both new and older neighbourhood shopping malls, such as the IKEA-MyTown Shopping Centre, Sunway Velocity Mall and Eko Cheras Mall. Pedestrian and public transport access to these malls is now both comfortable and easy. There are covered street-level walkways, link bridges and elevated pathways that double as landscaped courtyards offering alfresco dining, and even a buggy service to ferry shoppers from Sunway Velocity to IKEA-MyTown.
“It’s quite nice to be able to explore all the up and coming artisan food and coffee places in the new Eko Cheras Mall while being walking distance from the Cheras Leisure Mall, our favourite hangout spot growing up,” the aspiring singer and professional emcee says.
Mention Cheras, and for many KLites, the incredible food is what first comes to mind.
Its iconic Taman Connaught Night Market, for example, is home to some of the capital’s best selection of street food. These include coca-cola chicken, foot-long French fries, Korean BBQ oysters, and Dragon Beard candy. With over 700 stalls spread across more than two kilometres, it is also considered one of the longest night markets in the country.
Neighbourhood favourite, Kaki Corner, is an extremely popular place to enjoy Malaysian-style Western food, with a great view atop a hill overlooking Jalan Cheras and the Cheras roundabout. Then there’s the charmingly old school Taman Yulek’s Hawker Street, where residents can get all of their snacks and meals to go, and enjoy a friendly chat as they wait for their food to be ready. Some of the stall owners have been around for over 30 years, and the clientele is mostly regulars.
For Joey Tham, a communications consultant who has lived in the area her whole life, food is definitely the best thing about Cheras: “There's such a variety of good food that you can get that is both within budget and in close proximity.
“In my somewhat biased opinion, some of the best dim sum, pan mee, duck rice, or claypot rice in the world are here in Cheras”