The objective of this study was to assess the availability and readiness of the primary health care (PHC) services of commune health centers (CHCs) in Quoc Oai, a rural district of Northern Vietnam based on the World Health Organization's Service Availability and Readiness Assessment (SARA) tool. The study was done in 2 steps. First, the heads of the 21 CHCs of Quoc Oai district were interviewed using SARA, a quantitative survey, and the responses were then validated by direct observations of each facility. The results showed that although the average number of health staffs in each CHC met the national standards (at least 5 staffs per CHC), its allocation within each CHC was not properly met because some CHCs had only 2 health staffs. Several health equipment and facilities were not fully available in many CHCs, and although the majority of the PHC services were available at the CHCs, their readiness remained limited. Several significant correlates between the availability of health care workers and the availability of the facilities and the PHC services were observed, suggesting that they depend upon and affect one another in the health system. Using the SARA‐based inventory, the study helps health managers and policy makers to prioritize efforts and allocate resources more appropriately. To be effective, attention should be given to how to make facilities, services, and human resources for health ready for PHC activities—more investment and support from the system (from higher to lower level) and the government.