I took a one night, two day trip to one to the provinces this past weekend. It was all very pleasant, I had a nice time, I got to stop by some local businesses and see how they were making goods to wholesale, and it was nice to be out in the clean and fresh air.
But maybe the most enjoyable part of thing was traveling with just a briefcase.
I'd only done that once before, a few years ago. I forgot about how nice and convenient it is. I wore the same pair of jeans, packed my computer and a couple basics, and bought a new shirt after I arrived. Man, it's nice getting through the airport without any luggage, and the additional mobility from not having any gear to worry about is nice.
Unless I'm under time pressure when I arrive or I already have a place I like to stay in a city that I've been before, I tend to not book anywhere to stay - I just arrive and walk around. Frequently this surprises/amazes people, but I think it works really well.
I walked into a business hotel at around 8PM in the evening after it started getting dark. Their rates were 170 RMB for their cheapest room to 800 RMB for the most expensive. I said, "I want one night. What's the absolutely best price you can do?" The girl at the desk offered me 88 RMB, which I took.
Strange hotel actually. High end, but poorly maintained. I wonder if they've seen a downturn lately. Chandaliers, brass, and marble, but dirty rooms with unfixed damage. Or maybe they put me the "88 RMB one-night special" room. The breakfast was incredible in the morning, though - fresh hot eggs and vegetables for me. They had fruit, rice, breads, and pastries too, but I don't eat those - they looked good, though.
I'll do this even "just show up and walk around" thing even if I have luggage, but that might seem too hardcore for someone who doesn't have the traveling experience. (It's not actually a big deal, but might seem like a big deal)
But you could definitely do it if you're traveling with just a briefcase. Try it out some time for little weekend trip - man, I was amazed by how convenient and enjoyable it made the the whole thing.