The AirAsia FD3167 flight took off from Phuket for Chiang Mai at 7.26pm and it's believed birds became caught in one jet engine soon after.
With the smell of burning evident to the 160 passengers on board, the captain turned back and landed at Phuket at 7.58pm.
A check on the engines of the aircraft showed that nothing was damaged and the flight took off after a delay. AirAsia reported that 10 passengers chose to fly using an alternative carrier.
The remainder completed their journey to Chiang Mai after a stop at Bangkok's Don Muang airport.
Flights to Phuket are fully booked at this time of the year - the peak season - with visitors to Bangkok who wish to see Phuket forced to consider travelling by bus.
Tourist industry official complain that there are never enough seats on flights to cope with all passengers who wish to visit Phuket at this time of the year.