Mongolia represented the first of a long list of countries that we had/have to get visas for while enroute. Fortunately, as it turned out this one was pretty simple. It also turned out that we could probably have obtained Mongolian visas before departing had we been a little more organized.
We decided to obtain a 30 day tourist visa in Irkutsk and then extend it for another 30 days once in Ulaanbaatar. This option did not require a Letter Of Invitation. the other options, of seeking a 90 day tourist visa, seemed to require a LOI. Once on the road we did not think this was a feasible option. I should point out that US Citizens can get a 90 day tourist visa at the border.
As described in our post for May 23rd the Mongolian Embassy is an easy walk from Gargaran Boulevard and the Intourist Hotel, and that parking is pretty relatively easy on Gargaran. Also the Intourist Hotel allowed us and other overlanders to park overnight behind their building for a small charge. The Embassy is in Lapina St which is off Karla Marksa (one of the main streets in down Irkutsk). Lapina is a small street and the Embassy is easy to find in that street. The GPS coordinates of the Embassy are N52 16 48.0 E104 17 06.0.
We paid for a one day service (apply today, pickup tomorrow), the whole process was easy and at least one of the officers spoke English.
If you plan on staying in Mongolia more that 30 days you must register your visa.
Some of the information we read made the registration process and subsequent extension sound complicated with registration at one office and extension at another. However we found the process straightforward.
Maybe the only complexity about the visa extension process was getting to the INFC office which is near the airport. In the end we got a picture of the building from a travel website and armed with that caught a taxi to the airport. It worked.
Enter the INFC Building and from the entrance hall take the door to the right. Look around for a window labeled Visa Extensions or ask the Information desk.
The registration and extension process are now combined. Buy a visa registration form from one of the windows (1000 T each) and fill it out. Get a photo copy of ones passport facing page and Mongolian visa page from the desk in the buildings entrance hall and pay for the visa extension at the bank office in the same building. With all those in hand return to the "visa extension" window (in our case window 4) and wait 5-10 minutes while the office did the processing and put two additional stamps in our passports (one to record registration and one to record the extension).