Today I got an email from a guy who is coming to Bali in 2007, with his wife and kids. He asked me for suggestions on what to do, saying cheap accommodation was key. I could of said find a pool with swim up bar, and stay there for 2 weeks. Instead I offered some simple thoughts on how he could get the most out of his trip, and show the kids something new.
Nice to hear from you.
When you arrive in Bali, best thing is to catch an airport taxi (office 10 meters to your right as you exit immigration), to Kuta (Poppies Lane area). There is a ton of cheap accommodation on Poppies I, II and Jl. Benesari. and is only 2 miles from the airport.
I recommend getting out of the Kuta area and exploring the island. You can rent a car and drive yourself, rent a car with driver, take the Perama bus (tourist bus).
I know a good driver named Roy.
As far as places to go, Ubud is a good place to start. Downtown is a bit touristy, away from downtown its quiet and lovely.
Places you might like are Pandangbai, and Amed in East Bali, both with some cheap acommodation, particularly Padangbai (has a main beach and 2 other white sand beaches. Amed is more remote, Amed Cafe is one of the cheaper places to stay.
Sideman in East Bali is tropical and next to the rice fields, good quiet place.
In short, I’d say get some transport, explore, don’t be afraid of getting lost as Bali is small. There’s cool stuff around every corner, especially when you get away from the Kuta area. Accommodation can be found in places you’d never expect to find it, with a guest house or hotel standing all by itself. Negotiating for things is a part of this culture too, so don’t be shy.
Hope this helps.