The ability to create, manipulate and detect non-classical states of light has been key for many recent achievements in quantum physics and for developing quantum technologies. Achieving the same level of control over phonons, the quanta of vibrations, could have a similar impact, in particular on the fields of quantum sensing and quantum information processing. Here we present a crucial step towards this level of control and realize a single-mode waveguide for individual phonons in a suspended silicon microstructure. We use a cavity–waveguide architecture, where the cavity is used as a source and detector for the mechanical excitations while the waveguide has a free-standing end to reflect the phonons. This enables us to observe multiple round trips of phonons between the source and the reflector. The long mechanical lifetime of almost 100 μs demonstrates the possibility of nearly lossless transmission of single phonons over, in principle, tens of centimetres. Our experiment demonstrates full on-chip control over travelling single phonons strongly confined in the directions transverse to the propagation axis, potentially enabling a time-encoded multimode quantum memory at telecommunications wavelength and advanced quantum acoustics experiments.