I am going to be travelling to Bali from May 18th - May 30th and would really like suggestions on where to go and what to see.
I am travelling with 4 other people and we have a loose idea of what we want to see/do. So far we plan on spending 2 nights in Kuta (we know its unauthentic, overrun by drunken aussies etc), but it is near the airport and we will all be tired after our flight, so we will check it out.
From Kuta we most definitely plan on spending a couple of days in Ubud. From there our itinerary flies open. I have heard good things about the Gili Islands from fellow travelers and the same regarding Padangbai. Essentially what would you recommend us seeing and doing?
You have 12 days on a small island that is easy to navigate. My suggestion is to do exactly what you are doing...leave it open. Decide where to go after Ubud when you are there. You can get anywhere on the island by taxi/bus/scooter from Ubud in no more than five hours. The Gili islands and Lombok are simple to get to as well. Bali is much less busy outside of Kuta.
For specific recommendations you'll need to give us some info regarding what you like/want to do. If you're into beaches, jungle, diving,food, homestays,trekking or doing nothing at all you are in the right place!
My suggestions would be to check out Amed or Lembongan. Both are covered on this site, so check it out and see if they interest you. But I also agree with the previous post - leave it open and just wing it. Bali is easy enough to get around so you won't have any problem making last-minute decisions.
I'm not a fan of Padang Bai... I know that some people like it, but there's not much to it in my view. Much better to head up to Amed with your own car. Or the Bukit with your own car - if it's beaches you seek. If you want mountains, head to Munduk for a few very chilled days, Pemuteran for some snorkelling and maybe Lovina.