A city tour in a red tank taxi is a unique experience and one that you can only have in Russia. As soon as I saw this red tank on the Channel 4 show Travel Man, it was top of my list of things to do in Saint Petersburg.
This unique mode of transport is run by a local taxi company called 6000000. The armoured vehicle has been painted red to match the rest of their cars. The flags on the side of the vehicle just add to its bizarre and eye-catching appearance.
The safest taxi
Taxi 6000000 state that this is the worlds ‘safest taxi’ because its 1cm thick armour can protect passengers from bullets and shrapnel. Despite weighing 7 tones it can reach a maximum speed of 100kph.
How to book
As soon as I booked flights to Russia, I started to organised my red tank taxi experience. The tour has to be prearranged and after a lot of searching I managed to find their email address: email@example.com
The first time I emailed it was a short message in English. However a few weeks passed with no reply. I then thought about it properly and put the message into google translate so that it would be in Russian. I received a reply in Russian the following day.
The email stated that we can either meet them at their office or the tank can pick us up from our hotel for an additional fee. I decided it was worth paying extra and getting picked up from the hotel so that I didn’t have to take a taxi, in order to take what is essentially another taxi.
The pick up
The pick up was a lot more straightforward than the booking process. When it got to 13:00 our driver called and told us he was waiting down the road. We left our hotel and found him in the first available tank-sized parking spot. There was already a passerby taking photos of the unusual mode of transport.
The vehicle is largely unchanged so to access the inside you need to clamber through a hatch in the roof (something to bear in mind when choosing your outfit). Getting onto the roof is made easier by the footholds, handles and some help from the driver.
Inside the red tank taxi
The interior remains largely unchanged, so the inside feels just as authentic as the outside. The red tank holds a maximum of 4 people but it is most comfortable with 2 people. The back of the tank is quite small and although it has lots of windows, it doesn’t have a hatch door above it.
As well as the extra space in the front it was interesting to see the different switches and buttons. The driving was complex and a lot more than just clutch control. You can see why a special licence is required to drive it. Although that didn’t stop my friend asking to have a turn.
The whole tour lasted an hour and went past some of the well known attractions of St. Petersburg. The only place the red tank is unable to go is the old town and that is because of its weight.
Our driver was very skilled at manoeuvring the vehicle and spoke a little English. He even encouraged me to poke my head out of the hatch and take selfies whilst stuck in St. Petersburg’s notorious traffic. Once out of the traffic we stopped a battleship and stood on top of the tank for a quick photo shoot.
It is such an unusual sight that even the locals were taking photos as we drove around. I am sure that it will not surprise you to find out that this is the first armoured taxi in the world.
The experience costs 5000 rubles for an hour but costs less if you are picked up from their office. Cash only, red tanks don’t accept card. For me it was completely worth it for such a unique experience.