Instagram has released its list of the top ten most photographed locations on the service in 2012 and there’s a surprise as Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and Siam Paragon shopping mall top the pile as one and two, respectively.

The US dominates the rest of the list as Disneyland Park in California comes in third, while Times Square and the AT&T Park close out the top five. The Eiffel Tower, Paris’s iconic landmark, is the only location outside of Thailand and the US to feature in the top ten — which is below:

suv1 horz 730x364 Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand tops Instagrams list of most photographed places in 2012

Thailand’s isn’t a massive country in global terms — it has a population of around 70 million people — and for that reason this news is likely to surprise a lot of folks in the West. Speaking as someone who lives in Bangkok, however, I can believe it. These places are two of the most visited areas in Bangkok and, decorated with plenty of photogenic props, they are popular with hoards of smartphone camera snappers.

The fact that Thailand is also a world-famous tourist destination helps. The country estimates that it hosted 11.7 million visitors in 2012 and that’s certain to have contributed to Suvarnabhumi’s position too.

paragon1 horz 730x366 Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand tops Instagrams list of most photographed places in 2012

Though Thailand is the top country, Instagram and other apps are seeing a similar surge in usage across Southeast Asia. Many mobile Internet users in the region didn’t spend much-time (or any time at all) using PCs, so their mobile or tablet is their single portal to the Web and always-on Web access is something new to them. Combined, this can make their engagement and activity higher than the average Western user.

Given its recent issues around privacy and terms of service, 2013 will be an interesting one for Instagram. Will it continue to be the market leader in the face of increased competition from the likes of Flickr, Google-owned Snapseed and others?

Headline image via antwerpenR / Flickr, other photos via Instagram users mossy_booabangwiwinenucat and captain_8