Fluorescence-based nanothermometers have potential to offer accuracy in the measurement of temperature using non-contact approaches. Herein, a C-dot/C-dot based dual-emission temperature sensing platform is fabricated through the electrostatic self-assembly of two kinds of fluorescent CDs with opposite charges. This dual-emission platform consists of several nearly-spherical CDs with two emission centers in blue (440 nm) and orange (590 nm) regions. The orange fluorescence exhibits discernible response to external temperatures in the range of ∼15 to 85 °C; on the other hand, the blue fluorescence remains nearly constant. A continuous fluorescence color change in response to temperature from orange to blue can be clearly observed by the naked eye. Thus, the as-prepared C-dot based dual-emission nanospheres can be used for optical thermometry with high reproducibility and sensitivity (0.93%/°C). Detailed characterization shows that temperature (in the 15-85 °C window) impacts the surface states of orange emissive CDs, leaving the blue emissive CDs unaffected. A model is proposed to explain the observations. Finally, by taking advantage of the excellent biocompatibility and stability, the CD based fluorescent nanothermometer is successfully used for the visual measurement of intracellular temperature variations. © 2018 The Royal Society of Chemistry.