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Which Section of Great Wall? And add visit to Ming Tombs?

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I'm a bit overwhelmed by the different places you can go to see the Great Wall. We're looking to go as a day (or half day) from Beijing. It seems like the best way to do this is by either taking public transportation or hiring a taxi through your hotel (we'll be at the Novotel Peace). We want to see the wall but I'd also like to be in a scenic area to get pretty scenic photos as I'm big into photography as a hobby. We're young, in shape, and don't mind (would enjoy) a bit of a strenuous climb - but mind you we'll be going either Dec 27 or 28 so I don't know if that changes things (will there be snow?). I'm currently considering either Badaling (too touristy?), Mutinayu, and Huanghua Cheng (will it be open in winter? how to we check opening times?).

I'm also interested in going to the Ming Tombs on this day. Does that change your recommendation for which section of the wall we should visit? Is this a must-see sight in Beijing? To do both the wall and the Ming Tombs in one day, can we go by public transportation or do we have to hire a taxi?

Finally, someone told my husband or he read some review that the hotel we book (the Novotel Beijing Peace) rips people off when booking tours and taxis. Does anyone know about that? I like to think of us as pretty savvy travelers but I just keep reading so much about people getting ripped off and taken advantage of and being forced to pay more by taxis and drivers as I research Xi'an and Beijing.

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