Hamilton had won back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015, but needed to overturn a 12-point deficit to Rosberg in Abu Dhabi in order to be able to retain his title. Leading from pole position, Hamilton managed the pace at the front of the field to leave Rosberg under threat from Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen behind.
Rosberg was able to hold on to the second place he needed to secure the championship and on a visit to Kuala Lumpur to celebrate his success, the German said beating Hamilton makes the result even more satisfying.
"I owe some words to Lewis," Rosberg said. "He's one of the best in the world, one of the best ever surely, so it's incredibly intense to race him. It feels like we've been doing it forever and he's always edged me out ever so slightly, so to finally get one back was awesome.
"I've got great respect for him because he does an incredible job, he's done so well over the years and he fought to the very last metre on Sunday. That made it extremely tough on Sunday but all the more beautiful afterwards."
Rosberg is currently in the middle of a celebratory tour taking in his birthplace of Wiesbaden, Germany on Wednesday before visits to the Mercedes team headquarters in Brackley on Thursday and the FIA Prize Giving Gala in Vienna on Friday.
"It's been a pretty intense few days: I'm pretty tired after some hard partying in Abu Dhabi and I've got a few bruises, too, from how hard we celebrated with my friends - but it's just an amazing feeling to think I have achieved that childhood dream and I am World Champion."