Graphene oxide-wrapped gold nanorods (GO@AuNRs) offer efficient drug delivery as well as NIR laser photothermal therapy (PTT) in vitro and in vivo. However, no real-time observation of drug release has been reported to better understand the synergy of chemotherapy and PTT. Herein, surface-enhance Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is employed to guide chemo-photothermal cancer therapy by a two-step mechanism. In the presence of GO as an internal standard, SERS signals of DOX (doxorubicin) loaded onto GO@AuNRs are found to be pH-responsive. Both DOX and GO show strong SERS signals before the DOX@GO@AuNRs are endocytic. However, when the DOX@GO@AuNRs enter acidic microenvironments such as endosomes and/or lysosomes, the DOX signals start decreasing while the GO signals remain the same. This plasmonic antenna could be used to identify the appropriate time to apply the PTT laser during chemo-photothermal therapy.